How many languages do you speak? Some people are okay with learning one or two, but others can’t get enough and learn 10 or more. We call them polyglots. Although natural talent and abilities can play a big role, these language superheros offer some useful techniques and advice. If you’re feeling stuck with learning a new language, maybe you’ll find some inspiration in what these people have achieved and what they have to say.
1 – Dr. Carlos do Amaral Freire.
This Brazilian scholar has learned over a hundred languages -although many of them he says are a bit rusty by now- of which he is fluent in 30. For almost all of his adult life, he has been studying 2 new languages each year. For all you Portuguese speakers or lovers out there, he has collected and translated an anthology of poems from different languages called Babel de Poemas.
2 – Alex Rawlings
In 2012 the publishing house Harper Collins set out to find Britain’s most multilingual student. They found Alex, who has just graduated in German and Russian studies at Oxford University and speaks 11 languages.
You can find out about how he does it and general language-related topics on his blog Rawlangs
3 – Timothy Doner
Even younger than Rawlings, he became known when he was still a teen, for his ease at interaction in many languages. People think it’s especially impressive since he’s from the US, where fluency in another language is not that common.
Aside from the old debate over what is considered fluency, or any technical judgements, he has very good ideas about what makes language learning easier. His self-confidence in getting out there and practising any language to get better at it is inspiring.
5 – Luca Lampariello
Born in Rome, he’s been learning languages for 20 years and is fluent in 10. In this interview, Richard and Luca discuss polyglotism and language learning in different languages.
I was surprised that I couldn’t find any woman known for such impressive multilingual skills, given the predominance of the gender in the field. Why do you think that may be?