Tim the Teen Polyglot Phenomenon

If this is a hoax it is very convincing. Tim, a teenage American polyglot, demonstrates his ability in 10 languages in these Youtube videos. Not only are the languages mostly unrelated to each other and his own native language, not only has he learned these languages with a high degree of autonomy, he is just in his mid teens!











I hate to be a naysayer but this kid just looks too good to be true. I hope he’s not overstating his abilities because I’ve learned that such behavior inevitably leads to public embarrassment. The optimist in me wants to give him a chance though. Tim, you have made some very impressive videos. I’m excited to see what you will do next!


13 Responses

  1. Does he describe his learning methods / timeframes anywhere?

  2. His pronunciation is very impressive. 🙂

  3. Wow, this kid’s amazing. Even if he is too good to be true (let’s just say) and he did work from some pre-determined script, it would still be VERY impressive that he managed to do so.

    I’ve been studying Korean for the last few months and all I can say are the simple everyday words like hello, goodbye, hey, thank you, etc. Speaking in sentences if you’ve only known the language for a short amount of time seems unfathomable… I am also very curious about his methods and timeline.

  4. I also wonder how good his pronunciation is.

    • Who cares? Even if it’s not on the money I’m sure it’s still fairly decent. A native speaker of any of those languages wouldn’t even care about that. They’d be so impressed with his ability to speak the language that his pronunciation wouldn’t matter all that much.

  5. Does anyone know if he has a blog or another website to learn more about him and his methods?

  6. His Russian is very bad, but i am still amazed at the number of the languages he speaks at his age!

  7. I’ll start by saying this kid is impressive. This is a lot of work, and I’m in awe.

    At the same time, the talks seem pre-written. In Russian there are plenty of mistakes of pronunciation and grammar. The pronunciation sounds like he got the words out of a dictionary. In Egyptian Arabic, some formal elements creep in.

    This being said, his gusto and love for languages is fantastic. He has put a ton of time into memorizing what he has. I should say that I think memorizing phrases like this is a really good way to learn languages. He appears fascinated with the grammars, which is fun. I hope that he continues to build on what he has learned and his methods.

    Here’s an interview with him (towards the end of the program.)
    [audio src="http://thestory.org/archive/the_story_041912.mp3" /]

  8. I thing he is great. But I have some observations:
    1) His vocabulary seems to be very wide. \which suggests to me it must be pre written.
    2) He speaks so fast (much faster that other internet polyglots) that it makes me believe it is rehearsed beforehand.
    3)Unlike other internet polyglots we never see him speaking these languages with others on the net.

    But he is still highly impressive.

    • Tara,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. If you search around a bit you can find him having live conversations on the radio with people in Persian, Chinese and French. Here is a video of him speaking in 20 languages:

      • His Dutch sounds more like German, which sounds very different from Dutch by the way.. He mentions he’s learning Dutch from German, wonder how he does that haha.. I do think he uses the right words, as if a Dutch wrote it for him.. Very good!

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