Richard Simcott is an accomplished British hyperpolyglot based in Skopje, North Macedonia. He has actively studied more than 50 languages to date, and works in 14 of them on a regular basis! His impressive linguistic feats have led HarperCollins to call him “one of the most multilingual people from The United Kingdom.” In our conversation, he shares how he got into languages, how he learns and maintains so many, and what you can do to learn one (or many!) foreign languages yourself.

Topics Discussed

In the interview, Richard and I discuss:

  • Idiolects and dialects.
  • The importance of making language ability a “need” instead of just a “want.”
  • The fact that anyone can learn a language since everyone does.
  • The key difference between casual language learners and accomplished polyglots.
  • What languages Richard speaks and how he learned—and maintains—them.
  • The advantages of learning languages in university.
  • Richard’s language learning routine.
  • The pros and cons of continuing to refine a language vs. pursuing a “new pretty flower.”
  • The fact that language learning is technically a form of “over learning.”
  • The power of phonetic patterns in languages.

Events & Resources Mentioned

  • Borgen: a Danish political drama
  • Nordic Noir: A genre of Scandinavian TV with dark themes, plain language, and morally complex plot lines.
  • Euronews: a smartphone app which includes video, audio & text in multiple languages, including English, Arabic, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and Ukrainian.
  • The Polyglot Conference: A place for polyglots and language lovers of all levels to meet, laugh, and learn.

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