Meet the Polyglots: Incredible People Who Can Speak Many Languages (2022)

They say no man is an island. Indeed, we rely on interaction with our fellow humans to survive modern life. Communication is key to a lot of what we do every single day, from saying ‘hello’ and ‘pass the salt’ to ‘I love you’ and ‘I need your help’. With that in mind, it’s no surprise we all like to feel heard and understood – we prize the company of those who are good listeners and communicators. Yet, there are around 7,000 different languages spoken in the world, not counting dialects, according to Ethnologue, the database that is considered to be the most extensive catalogue of languages. So, does speaking multiple languages really make you a better communicator? We asked the polyglots.

Who Are the Polyglots?

In short, polyglots are people with a good written and spoken grasp of three or more languages. A hyperglot can speak more than 12 languages. The word stems from the Greek word poluglōttos, meaning more than one tongue, referring to language. There’s even a club for polyglots from around the world! Should you embark on joining the polyglots, you’ll be in good company; Nelson Mandela, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Natalie Portman, Trevor Noah, Cleopatra, and Prince William, to name but a few.

Meet the Polyglots: Incredible People Who Can Speak Many Languages (1)

Public figures and celebrities aside, the joy of languages is for everyone to experience and it can act as a great human equaliser.

(Video) AMAZING! 13 year old polyglot speaks 20 languages

Cynthia Rud, a 52-year-old learner with Centre of Excellence, says she believes learning languages “has definitely made me a more compassionate and understanding person”. Born and raised in Argentina, Cynthia has been living in Europe for 27 years now and is currently enjoying life in Brussels. Cynthia is proficient in her mother tongue of Spanish, as well as English, French, and Dutch. She also understands Italian and Portuguese and can count to five in Japanese!

While she puts this incredible flair for languages to excellent use in her job as a technical scientific literary translator and a licentiate in languages and linguistics, Cynthia is also a certified Life Coach and is studying the Emotional Intelligence Diploma Course. With communication key to her professional goals, Cynthia told Centre of Excellence, “I’ve always understood languages as a bridge between cultures, and language as an extremely powerful tool to conduct a dialogue.”

Meet the Polyglots: Incredible People Who Can Speak Many Languages (2)

But it’s also important to Cynthia — who enjoys travelling the world, feeding her “never-ending curiosity”, broadening her horizons, and meeting new people — on a personal level. Citing an article published by The British Academy stating that the cognitive benefits of learning a language include empathy and a global mindset, Cynthia said she’s also enjoyed an improvement in her overall analytical skills, creative expression and an enriched vocabulary.

The teacher has observed these benefits in her students of all ages who have developed “openness and adaptability” through language learning. Cynthia plans to continue demystifying modern language learning for students far and wide, to prove once and for all that languages are fun!

“I am convinced languages have opened up my mind and my heart in so many ways! I’ve been able to make friends all over the world, enjoy literature and cultural richness, and develop into a true citizen of the world,” she said. During the height of the global pandemic, Cynthia felt “determined to continue sharing common humanity and empathy through multilingual dialogue” and even took to YouTube to discuss — in multiple languages — the hopes and fears shared with her multilingual friends across Europe, Asia and America.

Meet the Polyglots: Incredible People Who Can Speak Many Languages (3)

(Video) unique encounter between 2 polyglots in 21 languages

Compelled to help her community feel connected and hopeful, leaving no one behind, Cynthia focussed not on the mastery of the languages used for these important conversations, but on the “value-creating exchanges between individuals”. Expecting only her close friends would watch, Cynthia was surprised to see these videos watched thousands of times.

Another Centre of Excellence student who understands the value of language learning to create a human connection is Claire Maurice. The 47-year-old speaks Spanish, Finnish, and English and is currently learning to speak Korean “so I can order a coffee when I go visit my daughter” who will be moving there in 2022 after completing her studies at university.

Currently residing in Bridgnorth, Claire has worked as an Early Years Teacher in Switzerland, Finland, Spain and Cyprus. Next on the list is Costa Rica, where Claire plans to volunteer with the turtle rescue missions on the island’s coastal regions. In order to best immerse herself in an experience, Claire says she thinks it’s important to have some of the language of the country in which you live. For that reason, she will be furthering her Spanish studies while learning Korean, both with Centre of Excellence.

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So, how easy is it to pick up another language? Claire says, “The more languages you learn, the easier it is to learn more, even if the languages are not related.” Admittedly, she has an appetite for learning and has also studied the Vikings and Conservation with CoE. But the language skills, in particular, Claire says, “have opened up so many opportunities for me and my family.”

Likewise, Jonathan Ferguson, credits his grasp of Spanish, French and German for his career security, telling Centre of Excellence that “learning languages means I have never been out of a job.” The 44-year-old Liverpudlian living in Lancashire has worked with languages since leaving university in a variety of commercial roles. In 2017, he retrained as a pastry chef and now runs his own small French-style pâtisserie.

Indeed, French and German were his first loves at school, where he developed a passion that led him to study more foreign languages at university level. He recalled, “If I try to think back to when I was in school, I suppose it was the lure of foreign cultures, travel, and adventure that really inspired me.”

(Video) This Man Speaks 32 Different Languages

Meet the Polyglots: Incredible People Who Can Speak Many Languages (5)

Languages didn’t disappoint him. Jonathan said, “On a personal level, it has really enriched my life through the ability to communicate, travel with confidence, explore the cultures of other countries, and I have also made some very good friends. Learning multiple languages has allowed me to see the world from different perspectives.”

When asked how he felt being a polyglot has influenced his life, he replied: “Would I be the person I am today without having first-hand experience of different cultures? Probably not!”

But beyond the cultural enrichment, even as a youngster, Jonathan was aware of the doors languages can open to future careers. Indeed, Jonathan says the “mental gymnastics” of language learning has helped him develop his cognition in many areas. Comparing the skills to learning an instrument, Jonathan believes learning a language is first and foremost about being able to apply knowledge to real-life situations and being able to problem-solve on the fly.

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To learn a language you must flex your memorisation muscles, hone your creativity in communication, and push your willingness to try things out and feel your way around rules.

Jonathan said, “For me, my experience of language learning has taught me to be thorough in my approach to learning new things, to look for patterns, to be creative in solving problems, to not be afraid of making mistakes, and to learn from those mistakes. Even today, when my job does not involve languages, I still use and develop my linguistic skills daily.”

(Video) Show «The Incredible people» Final. Bella Devyatkina. Polyglot

Like most polyglots, Jonathan has a love of learning that he has nurtured into adulthood with a varied and joyful approach to feeding his curiosity. A CoE learner since 2013, Jonathan has studied the Diet and Nutrition Advisor, Paleontology and Feline Behaviour and Psychology diploma courses.

Meet the Polyglots: Incredible People Who Can Speak Many Languages (7)

There are as many reasons to learn languages and join the polyglots as there are languages in the world. From Welsh to Arabic to Mandarin by way of British Sign Language, there will be a language out there to suit your style of learning, what you hope to achieve with your newfound fluency, and so many other fascinating polyglots — just like Claire, Jon, and Cynthia — out there to befriend along the way.

The world is waiting for you!

At the time of publishing, entering the code LEARNING in the checkout will reduce the price of our
Language Diploma Courses to just £29 each.

(Video) Show «The Incredible people». Bella Devyatkina. Polyglot

FAQs

How many languages polyglot can speak? ›

If someone is fluent in more than five languages, the person is called a polyglot.

Which polyglot speaks most languages? ›

Ziad Fazah, born in Liberia, brought up in Beirut and now living in Brazil, claims to be the world's greatest living polyglot, speaking a total of 59 world languages.

What do you call a person who speaks 4 languages? ›

quadrilingual (plural quadrilinguals) A person who understands four languages.

What's the meaning of polyglots? ›

1a : speaking or writing several languages : multilingual. b : composed of numerous linguistic groups a polyglot population. 2 : containing matter in several languages a polyglot sign. 3 : composed of elements from different languages. 4 : widely diverse (as in ethnic or cultural origins) a polyglot cuisine.

Who is a famous polyglot? ›

What do Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper and Mila Kunis all have in common? They're famous polyglots! A bilingual person can speak two languages, whereas polyglots can speak several languages. Which means these big names aren't just pretty faces, folks!

How do you become a polyglot? ›

21 Quick Tips How to Become a Polyglot
  1. Learn one language at a time. ...
  2. Attend language classes. ...
  3. Download mobile apps for language of your choice. ...
  4. Read the same book in multiple languages. ...
  5. Practise all languages as often as you can. ...
  6. Find a language partner. ...
  7. Use your inactive time to practise.
26 Jan 2018

Who is the first polyglot? ›

Ziad Fazah
Born10 June 1954 Monrovia, Liberia
Known forHis claim of being able to speak, read and understand 59 languages

How do polyglots learn a language? ›

Polyglots learn languages mostly by themselves

The majority of people sign up for lessons and expect to be spoon-fed the information because they paid the teacher to teach them. So they come to the lesson and wait to be taught. Polyglots' learning, however, is mostly self-directed.

What language is useful to learn? ›

Chinese and Spanish have that honor. But in 55 countries, English is the most commonly spoken second language, so it makes sense to speak English if you plan to live or study abroad.

What is it called if you speak 3 languages? ›

Being trilingual means that you speak three languages with general fluency.

What is the easiest language to learn? ›

15 of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers -...
  • Frisian. Frisian is thought to be one of the languages most closely related to English, and therefore also the easiest for English-speakers to pick up. ...
  • Dutch. ...
  • Norwegian. ...
  • Spanish. ...
  • Portuguese. ...
  • Italian. ...
  • French. ...
  • Swedish.
24 Oct 2021

What is it called when a person speaks many languages? ›

A polyglot is a person who speaks or understands many languages.

What is an example of polyglot? ›

A polyglot is defined as a person who speaks multiple languages. A person who speaks French, Spanish and English is an example of a polyglot.

How many polyglots are in the world? ›

Multilingualism constitutes only 3% of the world's population. Polyglot- someone who speaks 5 or more languages. This only constitutes around 1% of the world's population. If you know a polyglot that is very rare!

Can anyone be a polyglot? ›

Many people are bilingual or trilingual, but there are only a few who can speak and understand four or more languages. Such individuals are known as polyglots.

Is English a polyglot language? ›

As a professional translation company, we spend much of our time focused on foreign languages, especially languages that come up frequently for legal translations and patent translations. But every so often we turn our attention to our native English.

Why you should be a polyglot? ›

To sum up - being a polyglot brings an opportunity for a better and more fulfilled life. Your horizons will be wider, you will be able to understand other cultures, expand you business opportunity and enjoy every single benefit of it!

Who speaks the most language in the world? ›

1. Papua New Guinea. And so, the country with the most spoken languages in the world is officially Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea has an extravagant 840 languages spoken in its country.

How much do polyglots make? ›

How much does a Polyglot make? As of Sep 24, 2022, the average annual pay for a Polyglot in the United States is $161,874 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $77.82 an hour. This is the equivalent of $3,112/week or $13,489/month.

How do I learn a new language? ›

The Fastest Way to Learn a New Language in 8 Simple Steps
  1. Set language-learning goals. ...
  2. Learn the “right” words. ...
  3. Study smart. ...
  4. Start using the language all day, every day. ...
  5. Seek out real-life practice. ...
  6. Learn about the culture. ...
  7. Test yourself. ...
  8. Have fun!
1 Jun 2022

What language should I learn first to be a polyglot? ›

If you are just generally interested in being a polyglot, and aren't sure which language to go for first, then I highly recommend ESPERANTO, the most widely spoken constructed language and definitely among the easiest languages in the world.

What is the hardest language to learn? ›

1. Mandarin Chinese. Interestingly, the hardest language to learn is also the most widely spoken native language in the world. Mandarin Chinese is challenging for a number of reasons.

How many languages should I learn? ›

Most scholars and polyglots agree that it is best to only learn 2 languages at the same time if speaking in conversations is the goal. If the desire of the learner is to only read or write in the target languages 4 -5 languages can be attempted at the same time.

Is English hard to learn? ›

The English language is widely regarded as one of the most difficult to master. Because of its unpredictable spelling and challenging to learn grammar, it is challenging for both learners and native speakers.

How fast do polyglots learn a language? ›

Polyglots learn every day in small chunks.

By carving out 30 minutes to an hour of your time every day to listen, speak, write, read, or actively practice your language skills, you can easily learn Spanish fluently within one year.

What polyglots have in common? ›

If there's one thing that all polyglots have in common, it's that they love the process of learning languages. They have fun learning languages. They find it interesting, and they find ways to make it interesting. If they like using flashcards, they use flashcards.

Do polyglots learn multiple languages at once? ›

Many of the world's most famous polyglots have all weighed in on the subject over the years, and they all say the same thing: though it may be possible to learn two languages at once, not one major polyglot does it often, nor do they really recommend it.

What is the best language in the world? ›

The Top 10 Business Languages of the World in 2018 by GDP (IMF)
RankLanguage% of World GDP
1English20.77%
2Chinese19.64%
3Spanish6.04%
4Arabic5.25%
6 more rows
29 Nov 2018

What's the most important language? ›

Mandarin Chinese

With over one billion Mandarin Chinese speakers in the world, of course it tops the list of most important languages to learn in 2021.

Is it possible to speak 50 languages? ›

Kenneth Hale was a world-renowned MIT linguist who knew around fifty languages but claimed to only “speak” three (English, Spanish, and Warlpiri).

Is it possible to learn 10 languages? ›

Is It Even Possible to Learn 10 Languages? Short answer: yes. Many polyglots say they've learned 10 or more languages—it's been said that the 19th-century priest Giuseppe Mezzofanti spoke 50 languages!

What is it called when you speak 3 languages? ›

Being trilingual means that you speak three languages with general fluency.

Is a trilingual a polyglot? ›

Bilingual – Two different languages. Trilingual – Three different languages. Polyglot – (Three)/Four+ different languages.

What is the easiest language to learn? ›

15 of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers -...
  • Frisian. Frisian is thought to be one of the languages most closely related to English, and therefore also the easiest for English-speakers to pick up. ...
  • Dutch. ...
  • Norwegian. ...
  • Spanish. ...
  • Portuguese. ...
  • Italian. ...
  • French. ...
  • Swedish.
24 Oct 2021

How many languages can the brain learn? ›

An average person can speak two to four languages in a lifetime. However, human brains work differently, and an average person's brain can handle a maximum of four languages. It takes one year to learn the basics of a language for an average person.

What language is useful to learn? ›

Chinese and Spanish have that honor. But in 55 countries, English is the most commonly spoken second language, so it makes sense to speak English if you plan to live or study abroad.

What is the best age to learn a language? ›

They concluded that the ability to learn a new language, at least grammatically, is strongest until the age of 18 after which there is a precipitous decline. To become completely fluent, however, learning should start before the age of 10.

How long do you need to learn a language? ›

FSI research indicates that it takes 480 hours to reach basic fluency in group 1 languages, and 720 hours for group 2-4 languages. If we are able to put in 10 hours a day to learn a language, then basic fluency in the easy languages should take 48 days, and for difficult languages 72 days.

How hard is it to learn a language? ›

Put simply, it's hard because it challenges both your mind (your brain has to construct new cognitive frameworks) and time (it requires sustained, consistent practice).

What is the hardest language to learn? ›

1. Mandarin Chinese. Interestingly, the hardest language to learn is also the most widely spoken native language in the world. Mandarin Chinese is challenging for a number of reasons.

What speaks every language? ›

What speaks all languages of the world? Mouths!

What is the most spoken language in the world? ›

English is the largest language in the world, if you count both native and non-native speakers. If you count only native speakers, Mandarin Chinese is the largest.

How common are polyglots? ›

Polyglots are certainly rare and interesting people: only about 3% of the world's total population can speak four or more languages.

Does a polyglot have to be fluent? ›

Do you have to be fluent to be a polyglot? There isn't a certain standard of fluency someone should have to be called a polyglot. Some polyglots will be better in some of the languages they speak than others. They may speak some like a native, and then others conversational.

How many languages should I learn? ›

Most scholars and polyglots agree that it is best to only learn 2 languages at the same time if speaking in conversations is the goal. If the desire of the learner is to only read or write in the target languages 4 -5 languages can be attempted at the same time.

Videos

1. He Speaks 22 Languages (HUMAN POLYGLOT)
(Drew Binsky)
2. Chinese and Iranian polyglots speaking in 6 languages (subtitles)@Mahya polyglot
(Zoe.languages)
3. Surprising People by Speaking Their Language - MEGA Compilation!
(Ryan Hale)
4. 🌐 polyglot speaking in 12 languages to strangers, JAYKEEOUT x VWVB™
(JAYKEEOUT)
5. Polyglot Speaking in 12 Languages: How I came to learn each language
(Polyglot Stories)
6. Catching People Talking About Me in Foreign Languages... They don't know I Understood Everything
(Oriental Pearl)

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