How This Perfectly Normal Guy Learned 9 Languages

Matthew Youlden speaks nine languages fluently. Check out this video in which he speaks English, Irish, German, French, Hebrew, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, and Italian.
January 24, 2015

Matthew Youlden speaks nine languages fluently and understands more than a dozen more. He’s what is known as a polyglot, a member of the multilingual elite who speaks six or more languages fluently. He’s also a sociolinguist who studies the revitalization of minority languages. But to see him in action on a daily basis – deftly and comfortably talking to native-speakers in their own languages – suggests that he’s more than a polyglot. Matthew, who is originally from Manchester, England, is a language chameleon: Germans think he’s German, Spaniards think he’s Spanish, Brazilians think he’s… Portuguese. By his own account, Matthew has mastered a staggering number of languages by utilizing abilities that we all possess: persistence, enthusiasm and open-mindedness. According to Matthew, the more languages you speak, the more points of view you have:

“I think every language has a certain way of seeing the world. Each is a whole different world – a whole different mindsets. I couldn’t possibly choose only one language because it would mean really renouncing the possibility to be able to see the world in many different ways. So the monolingual lifestyle, for me, is the saddest, the loneliest, the most boring way of seeing the world. There are so many advantages of learning a language; I really can’t think of any reason not to.”

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Author Headshot
John-Erik Jordan
John-Erik was born in Los Angeles and grew up in a suburb named after Tarzan (yes, really). He's lived in Berlin since 2009 and has been Babbel Magazine's managing editor since 2015. Most of his free time is taken up by unhealthy obsessions with science fiction, tabletop games and the Dodgers.
John-Erik was born in Los Angeles and grew up in a suburb named after Tarzan (yes, really). He's lived in Berlin since 2009 and has been Babbel Magazine's managing editor since 2015. Most of his free time is taken up by unhealthy obsessions with science fiction, tabletop games and the Dodgers.

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