Meet Jorge Fernandez Gates
At only 18 years of age, Jorge Fernandez Gates can speak, read and write in 11 foreign languages. They are not all related languages either. Some already under his belt include Mandarin Chinese, Catalan, Galician, English, French, German, Swedish, Romanian, Italian, Portuguese, and Dutch.
Not only that, but Jorge only started learning foreign languages a little over 5 years ago, which means he’s been “picking up” a foreign lingo at the rate of two foreign languages per year. His goal is to get into the Guinness Book of Records by mastering at least 25 foreign languages.
Already recognized as the “youngest polyglot in Peru”, in several interviews given primarily in his native Spanish, he discusses some techniques he (and you) can use to develop fluency in whatever foreign language you’re striving to acquire.
He says, “For me, foreign language learning is a hobby, I can’t control it, at any moment I could open a dictionary to look up a new word for my vocabulary.”
His principal ally in the quest to master enough foreign languages to make the Guinness Book of Records is the internet which he credits with up to 70% of his foreign language learning success.
He cites in particular Radio Bucharest online at: (http://www.multilingualbooks.com/online-radio.html) that features both live and pre-recorded radio programming in 38 European and Asian languages as well as 18 African continental languages, and online language courses as aids in helping him to familiarize himself with foreign languages.
– Talking with the staff in ethnic restaurants
– Watching television programs in or about target languages
– Using the radio as a key listening and comprehension development resource “to help accustom your ear to the pronunciation of the language”
– Using the internet to listen and study foreign languages
A major concern he has had was that “one day his brain would explode” from the constant linguistic input or that he would linguistically get “his wires crossed” and become totally confused. A neurologist he consulted assured him that “there are no limits” to the brain’s capacity to take in and store knowledge.
Jorge Fernandez gives these “keys” as essential to his linguistic accomplishments:
– Learn the foreign language grammar “forwards and backwards”
– Acquire a basis vocabulary of high-frequency words and phrases
– Never stop augmenting new vocabulary in your new language – He tries to learn at least two new words each day
– Practice your new language with friends, language teachers or whomever you can regularly
And just what started it all?
“I’m not a good student and as punishment my Mother decided to take away my cell phone and prohibited me from chatting online. I couldn’t go out, so to keep from spending the entire day sleeping I enrolled in a French course.” Then things began to change for him. “I liked it and decided to take Italian too.” He later discovered a course in Romanian on the internet and “loved it”.
To “prove” his language abilities, family members have gone with him to Chinese restaurants to have him converse with the cook and contacted TV programs and foreign language professors to verify his linguistic skills in other languages.
So began the linguistic journey of Jorge Fernandez Gates. So as not to create a “Babel” in his brain, he restricts himself to “calmly learning only two languages” at a time per year. You can listen to journalist Rosa Maria Palacios do a 26 minute video interview with him (in Spanish) on his language-learning adventures at: http://www.youtube.com/
Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with “free ELT Ebook” in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org