My languages

My native language is (British) English, and I’ve studied quite a few other languages – French and German at secondary school, and Chinese (Mandarin) and Japanese at university. I studied all the other languages, though I have taken some courses in Welsh and Irish. Here’s a summary of my language knowledge:

Mandarin Chinese, French, Welsh and Irish (Gaelic)

German, Scottish Gaelic, Manx (Gaelic), Japanese, Spanish and Esperanto

Basic conversational ability
Italian, Portuguese, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Czech, Russian and Dutch

Arabic, Cornish, Breton, British Sign Language, Hindi, Hungarian, Korean, Latin, Scots, Swedish, Serbian, Toki Pona, Turkish

Since 2007 I’ve sung in a number of different choirs in Brighton, London and Bangor, and attended singing courses and workshops in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man. I’ve learnt songs in many languages, including English, Irish, Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Manx, French, Spanish, Italian, Corsican, Latin, Bulgarian, Church Slavonic, Croatian, Czech, Greek, Georgian, Russian, Zulu, Xhosa, Northern Ndebele, Yoruba, Tswana and Maori.

Current language use
The language I speak most often at the moment is English. I also have fairly regular opportunities to use my French and Welsh, and occasional opportunities to use some of my other languages. Since 2010 I have been going to a French conversation group every week. In 2013 I started a polyglot conversation group where I have opportunities to speak various languages, and to share my languages with others. I use my Irish in Ireland every summer, and speak Scottish Gaelic when I visit Scotland, which I do quite often. Apart from that most of my language use involves listening and reading, plus some writing on Multilingual musings my other blog.

Language goals
Ultimately I’d love to be fluent in all the languages I’ve studied or dabbled with, and in many others. I know that this is perhaps overly ambitious so am concentrating on maintaining and improving the ones I already know reasonably well, especially the Celtic ones.

Wish list
Other languages I might get round to learning one of these days: Basque, Greek, Hawaiian, and Swahili.

More details of my language learning adventures

24 Responses to My languages

  1. Heru says:

    I read you are very amazing (mengagumkan). But won’t you be interested in Bahasa Indonesia?

  2. Simon says:

    I haven’t got round to learning any Indonesian yet – maybe one day I will.

  3. IronMike says:

    I like your idea of studying one a month. My wife calls me fickle about languages. I rarely spend too much time on just one. I am at the 2-3 level (ACTFL) in Russian, Serbian/Croatian, Esperanto, and lower (1-1+) in Cornish and German, with a smidge of Irish. I might be missing some. My Czech reading is about a 1, as is my Slovene.

    I think I’ll steal your idea. Perhaps this month I’ll try to get my Croatian back up?!

  4. Deja Koren says:

    Dear IronMike,

    if you need any help with Croatian, feel free to contact me, since I am a Croat and would love to help anyone who is interested. My email is:


  5. Akane says:

    Mike: you pretty much covered my ethnic background, all of it, with your chosen languages! I’m learning Croatian, too. I am a beginner, but I love THINKING in Croatian.

  6. Tim says:

    Hi there,

    A friend on Facebook told me about Wikitongues, and as I was looking through it, I landed here!
    I am teaching the language of my city (Penang, Malaysia) online. The language is called Penang Hokkien. If you have the chance, please check out what I have at:

    Learn Penang Hokkien

    Love to hear from you.

    Take care and thank you (or as we say in my language, kam1siah3 lu4 ce3-ce3!)


  7. Andrej says:

    Croatian doesn’t exist as a language. It is politics in the Balkans messing with science, Croatian is an extinct language and Croats use a Serbian dialect called Kaikavian. The other dialects in Croatia are mostly spoken by Catholic Serbs who have been indoctrinated either during communism or by the pressure of medieval Venice.

  8. Deanna says:

    Always get drawn back to language studies. But also need to make a living. Any suggestions besides greeter @ Walmart? I love computers but want more people contact. I also DON’T care much for the idea of being a programmer. Right now my focus is on Italian. Through my years I’ve also studied Spanish, Latin, German, & French. My Japanese & Chinese is extremely limited. I even have some on Nintendo DS for fun.

  9. Simon says:

    Deanna – there are some suggestions for language-related careers on:

  10. Simon you are a true miracle. So many languages and so a nice and interesting website.

  11. Sue Torres says:

    Just reading about all the languages you speak, conversationally speak and are learning makes me happy. I love langagues. I stumbled on your site last night and spent 3 hours browsing and reading.

    I haven’t touched my languages in awhile. English and American Sign Language as first languages. Know German, Spanish. Learned Japanese, Latin. Dabbled in Chinese, Korean, Dutch, Hebrew, Arabic.

    I have interest in learning to read different language scripts.


  12. Dean says:

    What an amazing journey and work Simon. I have stepped in and out of your website from time to time, and always find something interesting to read and think about. Those of us who studied Chinese and Japanese starting back in the late 80s now have such diverse lives and careers. I think yours has to be up there with the most interesting and unimaginable at the time (given that there was no internet back in those days!). Astounding that you manage to make a living from this and that you keep up your passion. I’ll try to be even more diligent with those podcasts in Chinese and Japanese from now on! Cheers. Dean

  13. Simon says:

    Dean – it has been an amazing journey so far, and it’s wonderful that I can make a living from something I enjoy doing, and have time for my other interests, particularly music.

    The people I met at the East Asian Studies alumni reunion in Leeds last year have certainly ended up with very diverse lives and careers. Some involve China or Japan, but many don’t. From what I seen on Facebook, you’ve strayed quite a way from Chinese and Japanese, and it looks like you’ve found an interesting niche.

    I try to keep my Chinese and Japanese ticking over by using them whenever I have the chance, and my Chinese is still fairly good, but my Japanese is very rusty, and never got to the level of my Chinese in the first place.

  14. gemma stone says:

    Hiya…I’d like to just add my two pen’orth…I lived in Holland in the 1980s and while there had a bad road crash while riding a motorcycle resulting in hospitalization and several months convalescing. ..I had a basic understanding and vocabulary and could converse albeit very limited. ..the basic grasp waa acquired through picking up bits during previous visits and also I studied a little in a course. ..anyway. ..during my two months in hospital and several months lodging with a middle aged dutch couple (neither of whom spoke English) I was thrust in tbe deep end and had to learn out of necessity. ..although I really enjoyed it once it all came together as I dutch speaking English persona is quite a rarity. I would agree that if its a matter of necessity then one can pick up another language in adulthood

  15. Neha Irikai says:

    OMG !! that’s a great achievement Simon

  16. aaron klokeid says:

    I came across your site looking up Farsi as I have a friend who is Iranian. I even know a smidge of Deridja or Moroccan Arabic and the Arabic alphabet. I can make mistakes in just about any context in French as well!

    One of the fun things to come out of the North African experience (expats of all kinds) was playing Omniglot Scrabble. This is a friendly game and line refs were not employed terribly much.

    You lay down your word and if it was spelled the same in a different language you could double and triple your triples on the condition you knew the meaning in all the languages you are claiming.

    It was fun.


  17. Chiara says:

    Wow, you’re fluent in Mandarin Chinese and semi-fluent in Japanese! It is amazing what people can accomplish with so much passion, motivation and effort. I’m a beginner in Japanese and it’s my first Asian language. I’m fascinated by its writing system and its culture. I can’t wait to discover more about it and I want to enjoy every step of my journey 🙂

  18. Yanglish says:

    It’s just fantastic. You really are an amazing person.

  19. Xavier DN says:

    Hello there… I’m from Malaysia. My native speaker is Kadazandusun. I’m fluent in English and Bahasa Malaysia. I’m learning basic Chinese, Cantonese, Japanese and Korean.

  20. Jonathan says:

    As a matter of interest, allow me to introduce a recently evolved language – Singlish (Singapore English). It is not exactly a language but a mixture of languages and dialects. I thought it may be an interesting addition on this site… Singlish has evolved so much over the years someone has compiled a dictionary for it as well – 🙂

  21. Barbara says:

    I can’t hold claim to any other language but English, but I enjoyed studying French and Spanish in school. Without a great memory basic reading was as far as I ever got. I used to love a magazine called Quinto Lingo published many years ago by Rodale Press. They had side by side translations of articles in French,Spanish, English and German and also wrote about many other languages. It was a delight, as is your website. I haven’t visited in a long time and I miss the home page and the wonderful examples of alphabets you used to highlight. Some were very beautiful and I used them in art projects.

  22. Anna Like says:

    Mandarin Chinese? WOW! I have always been wondering how hard is to learn chinese? All respect for that.

  23. Margaret says:

    Hi Simon, I hope your foot is healing well and that you’re up and about as usual! I noticed in today’s Omniglot RSS feed that you said there were few visitors to the website … and for myself I can say that it’s mainly because I get the RSS feeds and your tweets, so I thought I’d stop by and say ‘HI’ … I am not fluent by any means, but enjoy languages of all kinds and can get along with French, Spanish, Italian and German. I’ve lately been wanting to lear ASL (American Sign Language) as there is a group that meets at a restaurant that I frequent and I’m curious about what they are saying 😉 … Best regards and thanks for the updates and all the great info on the website!

  24. John says:

    My dad knows Slavomolisano,
    a language marked as Critically endegered (or seriously, I’m not sure which) by UNESCO.

    I also was raised in one of the three villages which still uses it.
    Only 2,000 speakers remain, and almost none of them are children. In fact, a lot of them are older than 50.

    Quite amazing, right? But its also scary to see this language disappear.

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