Peruvian Youth Learns Twelve Languages

Jorge Fernández Gates is a nineteen-year-old Peruvian who has learned twelve languages. This video was made when he was eighteen so perhaps he’s learned another language or two since then. He has studied with private tutors and on his own. In this video a Spanish television crew takes him to different native speakers of these languages, including a Romanian diplomat, so he can show off his talents on screen. Quite impressive.

3 Responses

  1. […] so to speak, is probably the great Ziad Youssef Fazah. There are many up-and-comers, like this Peruvian youth (hattip to the linguist blogger). But for my money, the man to watch is Stu Jay Raj. When I came […]

  2. I had read a story in a Spanish newspaper earlier this year about a Swede who had self-taught himself a bunch of different languages. I think the guy was Swedish but maybe he was from Finland. In any case, if my memory serves, the guy had Asperger’s Syndrome which is a kind of autism. What stands out in my mind about the story was that for this guy learning foreign languages was as easy as brushing his teeth, but he had an almost impossible time relating to people and making friends.

    Is it possible that this Peruvian guy has a form of autism that makes him especially gifted in the area of language learning?

  3. Eelena: How fortunate for the the Swede who had Asperger’s and was a linguistic savant. Not all autistic people are savants.

    Actually, Jorge describes himself as a “normal” kid who plays music, goes out dancing with his friends, etc. Whenever someone speaks many languages he/she usually speaks many related languages. This is Jorge’s case. I don’t mean to say that what he did was easy but it was easier than if he had learned Russian, Hindi, Mandarin, Hebrew, Swahili, Tagalog and Korean in addition to his native Spanish.

    I think he built his confidence learning languages related to his own first (6), then moved onto Germanic languages (4) and then to some more “exotic” languages like Mandarin and Russian.

    The remarkable thing here is that he was raised in a monolingual family and in a mostly monolingual community but decided on his own to learn languages at a young age. This was obviously later facilitated by Mommy and Daddy who hired private tutors. I’ll just say it: I’m jealous of his foresight. To be fair I applaud his efforts and hold him up on my blog to hopefully encourage others to learn languages. If he can speak a dozen there is no reason we, even in adulthood, can’t learn to speak two or three.

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