The latest on travel, languages and culture by EF Education First

10 celebrities you didn’t know were multilingual

Celebs: they’re just like us, right? Ok so maybe they have a few (try million) more Instagram followers than us, BUT plenty of them also realize the value of learning another language and generally becoming well-rounded, skillful people. Here’s a handful of famous folks who are nailing being multilingual to inspire you to get studying.

1. Bradley Cooper – English and French

Oh bonjour, Monsieur Cooper. After falling in love with the language watching Chariots of Fire, Bradley made it his mission to add “fluent in French” to his list of talents and studied for six months in Aix-en-Provence. Bradley has shown off his suave language skills on the red carpet and has impressed French-speaking nations by giving interviews in their native tongue on press tours. Swoon.

2. Mila Kunis – Russian and English

Born in Ukraine, Mila’s first language was Russian. So when she suddenly found herself enrolled in school in L.A at age seven, she had no choice but to learn English – quickly. She’s perfected her smooth American accent and though she rarely needs to use Russian these days, chatting with her parents keeps her skills sharp. You know, just in case she needs to defend Justin Timberlake in an interview with a Russian-speaking reporter in Moscow (yes, there’s a video on YouTube).

3. Sofia Vergara – Spanish and English

Actress and model Sofia Vergara grew up in Colombia and began her career as the host of several Spanish-speaking TV shows in American. But, having learned English fluently while at school, she’s since landed many TV and film roles (you’ll have seen her as Gloria in Modern Family), passed the American citizenship test with a perfect score and has also bagged Hollywood heart-throb Joe Manganiello.

4. Sandra Bullock

Born to an American army officer and an opera singer from Germany, Sandy B’s parents are the reason she’s bilingual. She spent several years of her childhood on tour with her mother in Europe and living in Germany, even taking to the stage for a few German opera performances. Though shy speaking German in public often, she’s given several fluent awards acceptance speeches and wowed unsuspecting crowds.

5. Mark Zuckerberg

One of today’s most successful entrepreneurs: it’s easy to assume that the founder of Facebook learned Mandarin because it’s spoken by over a billion people. True, it’s a business-savvy move, but his enviable Mandarin skills are also a gesture of love. His wife is Chinese and he’s embraced a notoriously difficult language to learn so that he can speak with her family (including her grandma) in their native language. Now THAT’s romance.

6. Natalie Portman – English, Spanish, German, Japanese, and Hebrew

Learning any new language is seriously impressive. So being fluent in English, Spanish, German, Japanese, and Hebrew makes UN Ambassador and A-list actress Natalie Portman a serious contender for our #WCW. She moved from Jerusalem to America when she was three years old, learned Hebrew at school, and has continued to grow her multilingual talents as an adult. She’s even famously skipped movie premiers to study.

7. Tom Hiddleston – English, Spanish, French, and Greek

Not only is this gent the poster boy for the perfect English accent, he’s actually got a flair for languages that could give Natalie Portman a run for her money. Rumor has it, Tom can speak nine different languages, though he’s only fluent in four of them: English, Spanish, French, and Greek. While traveling, as movie stars tend to do, Tom always tries to speak in the local language or learn a few phrases if he isn’t already fluent.

8. Rita Ora – English and Albanian

Though Rita moved to England from Kosovo when she was just a toddler, growing up speaking to her Kosovar-Albanian parents in their mother tongue means she’s fluent in Albanian. In interviews, Rita has spoken about her pride in being one of Kosovo’s few famous faces and by ensuring that the language remains part of her life. She’s flying the flag for her culture and keeping grounded, no matter how many times her songs are on the charts.

9. Colin Firth – English and Italian

Even off-screen, Mr. Darcy is a textbook romantic. He learned Italian to impress his wife, Livia Giuggioli and her family, and he’s even recently applied for Italian citizenship. He’s admitted his accent could do with a little work, though, saying that though he could take a role in an Italian film, it would only be if his character was an Englishman speaking Italian…

10. Sandra Oh – Korean, English, French, Spanish

With Korean parents and a childhood spent in Ottawa, Canada, it’s no surprise that Sandra has led a multilingual lifestyle from day one. But when you’re in a country that itself is famously home to a huge French-speaking population, why stop at just English and Korean? After studying the language of love whilst at acting school in Montreal, she’s since learned Spanish too and put us all to shame just a little bit.

Roll out the red carpetLearn a language abroad

Share this article

Latest articles from Culture