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A Multilingual Cambodian Boy Became an Online Sensation Overnight

Mon-19-Nov-2018 | Category : 3

A Cambodian 14-year-old boy, Thuch Salik, has been in the spotlight lately since the revelation of his remarkable linguistic skills went viral on social media. Salik was born into a poor family in Battambong province and moved to Siem Reap with his parents and a younger brother to earn a living. Today, Salik is selling simple souvenirs to tourists at Ta Prohm temple in Siem Reap-Cambodia with his mother and a little brother. 

Salik becomes an overnight online sensation after a Malaysian traveler posted on Facebook a video that she took while Salik were trying to sell his products in more than 10 different languages, switching through them without breaking a sweat. A recent interview by Channel NewsAsia reported that Salik could speak up to 16 languages including German, Italian, French, Spain, Khmer, English, Tagalog, Bahasa Melayu, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hainanese, Russian, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese.

What is more, Salik is not the only language master in his family. His 11-year-old younger brother, Tithya, can also speak 12 foreign languages. It is amazed how Salik and his brother can pick up all these languages through direct interactions with travelers who visited the Angkor complex. Blending his linguistic ability with great selling skills, Salik would sing a Chinese song or pick catching Chinese phrases to interact and attract attention of Chinese-speaking tourists to buy his souvenirs such as postcard, fridge magnet, fan, bag, etc. Salik would do the same for English-speaking travelers and so on.

Due to his strong enthusiasm for learning, Salik never complains for having to take a long route of 3 kilometers on his bicycle to school each day. Today, Salik is a grade 9 student and also a souvenir seller to help earn some money to support family’s daily essentials.

Since the video went viral throughout Cambodian and many parts of Asia,
Salik and his family have been receiving generous donation from charities to financially support his education and family’s living condition. With improved financial security, Salik is committed to further improving his language skills and general education as he has been dreaming of becoming a tour guide when he finishes school. 

Photo Sources : Channel News Asia 

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