Aussie speaks fluent Mandarin after coma


Australian Ben McMahon woke up from a coma speaking fluent Mandarin, a language that he'd studied in high school but never mastered.

If you've ever tried to learn a second language, you would know it's not the easiest thing to do.

Sometimes you need a push in the right direction with help from web apps, books, language tapes, or even a trip to the country. But not everyone needs that much work.

Ben McMahon was a passenger in a car when it was hit by a truck leaving him in a coma for more than a week.

But when he woke from his coma, something had changed; he was speaking only Mandarin.

"When my parents came and saw me I'd speak to them in Mandarin." he says. "That would have really frightened them."

While Ben doesn't remember exactly what happened during the crash, he decided to make the most of his new ability and enrolled in a Mandarin class at Melbourne University.

Ben has since represented Australia in an international language competition and now hosts a Chinese television show with two native Mandarin speakers.

"They've really welcomed me with open arms," he says. "There aren't too many people that studied the language Mandarin at this level.

"That really gives you a lot of force behind yourself to just keep going and going."

Throughout his recovery his family remained supportive, but his father Mark McMahon says much of the credit for his son's remarkable recovery goes to Ben himself.

"When I look back over everything that's happened, I've never heard him once complain," says Mark McMahon, Ben's dad. "He's always been so positive."

"I think that's part of why he's recovered so well."

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