The cult of the hyperpolyglot

Posted on Feb 23, 2012

BBC News magazine published an article about hyperpolyglots on 12 February 2012. It contains an impressive video of Alex, who demonstrates he can speak eleven languages. I am certainly impressed by Alex’s abilities. Being a polyglot myself, I can appreciate his almost impeccable pronunciation and fluency in all of his languages. Although it does sound rehearsed, there is no question he has an extraordinary ear and is extremely talented. I can speak and understand about ten, maybe eleven languages out of which I would say only six are on a near native level; it would be wrong to believe we learn languages ”just like that” and that it comes naturally. Yes, there is surely talent needed but also great drive, passion, dedication and most importantly patience, and years and years of hard work. A few years ago, as a language tutor myself and out of my frustration about some of the things actually mentioned in this BBC article, I founded London Language Studio to help  English students, as I could not believe the difficulties the English encounter when learning languages. I see every day how keen the English are to learn languages and how little idea they have when starting a course about what’s ahead of them. And I also see how much they struggle with the task. In my view, much of the blame lies with the terrible lack of schooling in English grammar in the British education system, rather than the “we don’t need to learn any language-everyone speaks English” attitude. This lack of understanding of your own language structure seriously hinders the learning of any foreign language to a good level of fluency, or indeed any more basic level and makes learning a foreign language a scary, difficult, frustrating, and often unsuccessful enterprise. Watch Alex fluent in eleven languages