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I am a language nerd and adore learning languages so that I can access more media such as serials, movies and music, says Salman Aji Image Credit: Shutterstock

A recent graduate from the National Centre for the Distinguished in Syria, a well-known school for high achieving students, Salman Aji has studied a variety of subjects- mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, applied technology, English, French, Arabic, Philosophy, Geography, History, Religion and National Studies. He also practised arts, music and sport.

‘‘However, I enjoyed mathematics, physics and languages the most,’’ he says. Clearly math is his passion: he has participated in the International Mathematical Modelling Olympiad and the Mathematical Modelling Tournament for Teams. He was also part of his school’s programming and AI clubs thanks to which he honed his skills to participate in the Kolmogorov Reading Conference for scientific papers. ‘‘I wrote a research paper titled Detection and Classification of brain tumors in MRIs using CNN,’’ he says. I am a language nerd. I adore learning languages so that I can access more media such as serials, movies and music!

A lover of languages, he speaks Arabic and English fluently and is now studying French and Spanish. ‘‘I also write code using Python and C++ languages,’’ says Salman.

Excerpts from an interview:

What led you to develop this passion for languages?

Salman Aji

At first, I wasn’t that good in languages. Honestly, I hated English. But then, my cousin recommended this beautiful song ( Photograph by Ed Sheeran ). We listened to the song together then she translated every single word to me. After that, I took a lot of songs from her and started looking up new words myself. I used to memorize the lyrics to sing along with the song so that I can work on my pronunciation and my pace. Things went great pretty quickly and I started learning French this way. But this time, the translation wouldn’t be into Arabic, instead it would be into English. Spanish is my new language and I am going to work on it as I worked on French and English.

How do you think learning languages will help you?

Language is more than a way to communicate with others. Learning a language enhances the ability of your mind. Research proved that the brain of monolinguals differs from those who are multilingual. The more languages you speak the better attention and task-switching capabilities you have. Learning languages would give you a lot of opportunities. You can work as a translator, access more courses and websites on the internet and, of course, discover a whole new culture with all of its traditions, habits and publications.

Tell us some of the more fulfilling moments when a foreign language you learnt helped you connect with people better.

English helped me in all international competitions I participated in. Spanish helped me get to know new friends online. I found a group where people want to practice Spanish, so I talked with some of them and it was fun! French introduced me to French songs which are more than amazing because of how genuine and expressive they are.

Tell us about your volunteering/community related initiatives.

While in 10th grade I volunteered in Mosaic Association for Relief and Human Development. Activities included teaching the reallocated children because of war to distributing clothes and food to those in need. This participation was inspired by my experience in helping my sick grandmother when I was in the 9th grade.

What are the subjects you are planning on taking for your higher studies?

As I am studying an engineering major in university, I would take mathematics and physics for higher studies.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

The greatest achievement was balancing my time during the baccalaureate perfectly. I could balance my time between the extracurricular activities (I got 3 honourable mentions in competitions) and I managed to maintain the top place in my class.

What is your dream career?

I hope I can be a programmer or an AI expert in a company like Meta and work more on VR In order to fulfill this wish, I am working hard on my applications to American universities. I am learning more about programming languages and AI specialisation. My dream is to study double engineering majors- Mechatronics and AI.

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