Most people babble a few words and imagine that a grammatically incorrect and wrongly pronounced enumeration of words means they â€˜can speak a foreign languageâ€™ such as Spanish or French.
And here comes this primary school boy speaking 10 languages besides English. Arpan Sharma, 10, from The Blue Coat School, Edgbaston, Birmingham, is (for the second year) finalist amongst other 30 children in a UK language
At home, he speaks Hindi as a mother tongue, he learned four languages at a fee-paying school (French, Spanish, German and Italian) and the others through interactive, multimedia CD-ROMs: Thai, Swahili, Polish and Chinese Mandarin and is now studying the Lugandan language of Uganda. "I like learning them. I think they're enjoyable. You have to have a desire to learn languages otherwise you'll never get anywhere, because if you don't have a desire, then you'll never want to learn them.", said Arpan.
Naturally, the boy's favorite language is Hindi, which is "very, very different to English. You don't say my name is. You say my name Arpan is."
This, linguistically speaking, is extremely minor, and Hindi is much closer to English (as Indo-European language), than to Thai, Swahili, Chinese and Ugandan, fact that makes me personally wonder how much the boy really knows about these languages.
The boy wants to be a doctor and work around the world, but said that he is also interested in becoming a musician or journalist. "Arpan has a "natural gift" for languages. He's also a very talented musician, so I think the ear that he has for music also helps him with his languages. He is without doubt the most talented pupil linguistically we've ever had. Arpan is reasonably fluent in Hindi and the four languages he has studied at school, but the others "learnt at speed" are "more sketchily known. The boy has added Polish, Chinese Mandarin and the Lugandan language of Uganda within the last year as he prepares for Friday's final.", said school's deputy head, Richard Lynn.
"He was very young last year - it was a case of throwing him in at the deep end and seeing what happens and it was amazing. Obviously he's older this year and he's had more opportunity to work on his languages. One starts to learn English pretty much as soon as one hops out of the womb, so the earlier one learns it the better. It certainly makes children able to appreciate language more and makes them realize that it's not something that's simply spoken by 'funny foreigners'.", Lynn added.