At MosaLingua, we often write about the best techniques, tips, and methods for learning a language. We also write a lot of articles about the benefits of knowing multiple languages and talk about how to be an avid language learner. Today, we’ll be doing all three! We’re talking about the most inspiring and famous polyglots in the world.

Last Updated: 05/24/2022

Famous Polyglots

The Most Inspiring and Famous Polyglots in the World

Here, you’ll find out who those famous polyglots are, how many languages they speak, how they learn languages, and links to their websites and YouTube channels where you can find their advice for learning languages and more!

We’ll start with the famous polyglots, then introduce some hyperpolyglots, and we’ll finish off the list with a bonus polyglot (any guesses?) and some famous historical polyglots and multilingual celebrities.

Terms to Know

What is a polyglot?

Polyglots are essentially people who speak many languages. The word polyglot comes from the Greek word poluglōttos, which means more than one tongue. (“Tongue” referring to language, in this case.) Most languages don’t stray too far from this root: poliglots, poliglotta, poliglota, polyglottesTechnically speaking, anyone who speaks more than one language is a polyglot. But most bilingual or even multilingual people don’t consider themselves polyglots. That’s why it can be difficult to define “polyglot.” Exactly how many languages do you need to know to be a polyglot? Most people think that to truly be part of the “polyglot club,” you should be able to speak at least three languages. This is the definition we’ll be relying on for this article about the most inspiring and famous polyglots. We created a separate section for hyperpolyglots.

What’s the difference between a polyglot and a hyperpolyglot?

Speaking of hyperpolyglots… what are they?! Hyperpolyglots and polyglots are both terms that refer to people who can speak more than one language. Although some people think that the two terms mean the same thing, there is a difference.

A hyperpolyglot is proficient in at least 12 (!) languages.

As a reminder, for this article, we’ll consider a polyglot to be fluent in more than three languages. Now that we have that terminology out of the way, let’s get into our list of awesome and inspiring polyglots and language lovers!

Download your FREE eBook: 7 Essential Tools to Learn a Language

These resources, used by polyglots all over the world, will help you make amazing progress in the language you’re learning (English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, etc.).

Get your FREE eBook

Our List of Inspiring and Famous Polyglots

Olly Richards

34-of-the-most-inspiring-and-famous-polyglots-in-the-world-mosalinguaOlly Richards is a language expert who runs the blog I Will Teach You a Language, a very interesting podcast and YouTube channel. He has eight languages under his belt and a lot of incredibly valuable tips to share on how to most effectively learn a language. He is a fan of the Spaced Repetition System and of flashcards. So much so, in fact, that he recently published a very positive review of the MosaLingua apps: check the video here.

Our co-founder Luca had the chance to interview him recently and picked up a lot of useful tips about how to immerse yourself in a language without moving abroad (check out the video below).

Country: United Kingdom
Languages: English (native), Japanese, Cantonese, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian and Arabic
YouTube Channel: Olly Richards
Products: Language Learning Foundations Video CourseIntermediate Spanish Academy
How he learns language: listening to audio material, talking, using flashcards and SRS

Olly was kind enough to share some great language immersion tips (not just for famous polyglots) in this video on our YouTube channel:

Benny Lewis

34-of-the-most-inspiring-and-famous-polyglots-in-the-world-mosalinguaWhen you think about famous polyglots, one of the first names that comes to mind is without a doubt Benny Lewis, also known as the Irish Polyglot. Benny Lewis likes to describe himself as a “fun-loving Irish guy, full-time globetrotter, and international bestselling author.” Yes, because in between all the traveling, public speaking, blogging, and language learning, Benny also somehow finds the time to write books.

Benny runs Fluent in 3 Months, one of the most popular language-learning blogs in the world. The project started with his challenge to live in different countries and become conversational in the local language in just three months. We are big fans of his language-hacking-based approach. Benny loves finding shortcuts to getting by in a language in a very short amount of time. He also encourages people to accept and embrace their mistakes, which are part of the learning process. Benny shares our passion for flashcards and the SRS method, so it’s no surprise that we like his work.

Below is an interview we recorded with Benny in Berlin. He also wrote a nice review of MosaLingua apps on his blog, Fluent in 3 Months.

Country: Ireland
Languages: English (native), Spanish, Esperanto, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, American Sign Language, Dutch and Irish
YouTube Channel: Benny Lewis
Product: FI3M Premium – Why (language name) is Easy – Language Hacking Series (French, Spanish, German, and Italian)
How he learns language: talking, hacking the language, flashcards, SRS

Check out MosaLingua co-founder Samuel’s conversation with Benny Lewis:

Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel yet? Click here to join our community so that you never miss out on the cool language content (like learning tips and interviews with famous polyglots!) we post.

Lydia Machova

Lydia Machova polyglotLydia has learned seven languages without living abroad by using common polyglot methods. She uses her website as a way to help others do the same. Originally from Slovakia, Lydia is a language mentor and professional interpreter. She believes that the most important aspect of learning a language is being able to communicate in everyday situations. She emphasizes the importance of speaking. This means that even if you don’t have a great command of spelling and grammar, you can still communicate.

Lydia organized two Polyglot Gatherings in Bratislava, which happened to be among the biggest polyglot events in the world.

Country: Slovakia
Languages: Slovak, Czech, English, German, Spanish, French, Polish, Esperanto, Russian, Swahili
YouTube Channel: Language Mentoring
Products: Language Master video course
How she learns language: starts with a book, lots of input, Goldlist method, various combinations of methods

Watch Luca’s 2017 interview with Lydia right here or on our YouTube channel:

Jimmy Mello

jimmy melloJimmy Mello, also known as “the Brazilian Polyglot,” has his own language school in Brazil and writes books on language, making full use of his two university degrees: Linguistics and Pedagogy.
Unlike your typical Brazilian person who loves soccer, Jimmy’s passion (and hobby) is learning languages. Despite his extensive knowledge of language, he has surprisingly never lived abroad. He attributes his language-learning capacity to motivation, dedication, and commitment. Jimmy has incredible energy and his real gift is being able to share his enthusiasm and passion for languages. He is the author of the Mello Method, which is entirely based on speaking the language you want to learn. Jimmy is also a fan of flashcards and apps.

Country: Brazil
Languages: Portuguese (native), English, Spanish, Italian, French, Catalan, Polish, Russian, and Esperanto
YouTube Channel: My Polyglot TV
Products: The Mello Method
How he learns languages: speaking them from an early stage, using flashcards and apps

Aaron Myers

34-of-the-most-inspiring-and-famous-polyglots-in-the-world-mosalinguaAaron is someone who wanted to be everything when he grew up, and that’s pretty much what happened. So far, he has been a whitewater rafting and adventure guide, bus driver, religious worker in Mexico, waiter, Boy Scout camp program director, ESL teacher, and high school English teacher. After getting married, he went back to university to get ESL teaching credentials, and that’s where he started being interested in languages. He and his wife moved to Turkey as Christian missionaries, and he now teaches English and keeps a blog that includes tips for learning languages.

Country: USA
Languages: English (native), Turkish, Spanish

Donovan Nagel

34-of-the-most-inspiring-and-famous-polyglots-in-the-world-mosalinguaDonovan, like most people, started learning a foreign language at school. And, like most people, he didn’t like it, nor was it truly enough to learn a language. It was when he started studying theology in college that he got a taste of what language learning should be like: enjoyable. He first started with Ancient Hebrew and Greek, and moved on to Arabic, Italian, Korean, Russian, and the list goes on. He combines his love for traveling, languages, and his wife by learning languages while traveling abroad with her. Donovan has two websites: one is for learning different Arabic dialects, and the other is about languages in general. They’re both worth taking a look at!

Donovan hails from Australia and is a big believer that you don’t need to know grammar to learn a language. He argues that the best way to learn a language is to copy the way we learned a language as a kid. Even before their first grammar lesson, children learn by listening to and imitating their parents. His theory is that as children, we learn sentences in fragments instead of individual words. For example, “look at that!” instead of “look,” “at,” and “that” as individual words.

Country: Australia
LanguagesEnglish (native), Egyptian Arabic, MSA, Korean, Russian, Irish, Ancient Hebrew, and Greek
YouTube Channel: Mezzoguild

Judith Meyer

34-of-the-most-inspiring-and-famous-polyglots-in-the-world-mosalinguaJudith is a polyglot who is also a computer programmer. Not being able to choose just one as her career, she killed two birds with one stone by making use of both skillsets to build programs for language learning. Which makes sense, for someone who was conversational in eight languages and could understand five computer languages by her 18th birthday! The way she learns a language is by finding an area of interest in the language, for instance, a TV series, music, or a book, and concentrates on being able to understand that. She also highly recommends finding native speakers to practice with and reinforce what you’ve learned.

Country: Germany
Languages: German (native), English, French, Italian, Esperanto, Chinese, Swahili, Greek, Spanish, Indonesian and Dutch
YouTube Channel: German Polyglot Judith Meyer

Conor Clyne

34-of-the-most-inspiring-and-famous-polyglots-in-the-world-mosalinguaConor is another perfect example that shows that you don’t have to be born in a multilingual environment to learn a language. He first started studying a foreign language when he was 21… Fast-forward 10 years, and he now knows 11! After having lived in France for an Erasmus year, he saw that his French was improving. It was then that he realized that he wasn’t bad with languages, but rather that most schools aren’t good at teaching languages (a common realization for famous polyglots). Through his language-learning experience, he has learned the right and wrong ways to learn a language. Conor runs a very nice vlog about traveling and learning languages (see links below).

Country: Ireland
Languages: English (native), French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, Romanian, Irish, and Catalan
YouTube Channel: Language Tsar with Conor Clyne

Simon Ager

Simon AgerSimon Ager speaks 11 languages at a conversational level and has basic knowledge of another 13. He runs the Omniglot website, an encyclopedia of writing systems and languages, and also the Omniglot blog, where he writes about language and linguistics. In other words, Simon loves languages. However, he was not taught languages as a young child. In fact, he only knew one language until he was 11. He started studying languages at school, then studied more languages for his undergraduate degree, and that’s how it all started.

He has lived in 6 different countries so far: England, Wales, France, Jersey, Taiwan, and Japan. Despite truly deserving his spot in this article on the most famous polyglots, he isn’t just interested in languages. He also loves music; he sings, plays various instruments, and writes his own songs.

Country: Great Britain
Languages: English (native), Mandarin Chinese, French, Welsh, Irish, German, Scottish Gaelic, Manx, Japanese, Spanish, and Esperanto

Kerstin Cable

34-of-the-most-inspiring-and-famous-polyglots-in-the-world-mosalinguaKerstin Cable has accumulated a vast pool of knowledge about language learning. She blogs about new concepts, motivational tips, and excellent techniques. She uses her own experience in learning new languages to give her readers amazing insight. You’ll love her savvy advice and engaging writing.

Kerstin believes that language learning is not just for those who are smart, rich, young and/or privileged, and she thinks it should be something that people enjoy doing. Additionally, she informs her readers that when you find the right resources and tools for you, language learning can even become easy.

Country: Germany
LanguagesGerman (native), French, Spanish, Latin, Russian, Italian, Welsh

Sam Gendreau

sam gendreauSam didn’t care too much for languages until just a few years ago, when he moved to Australia for two years. It was there that he began learning Korean with his partner. He soon moved onto another language, then another, and so on. He has since lived and traveled in Oceania, Southeast and East Asia, and across North America. His approach to language learning is similar to that of most famous polyglots: whether it is by listening to music, watching films, or reading books, make the process simple and enjoyable.

Country: USA
LanguagesFrench (native), English, Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese

Olle Linge

34-of-the-most-inspiring-and-famous-polyglots-in-the-world-mosalinguaOlle is a Swedish language enthusiast who has a degree in teaching English and Mandarin Chinese. He runs a website dedicated to learning Chinese and is a Chinese language coach. As all famous polyglots do, he believes in studying languages, but, because he loves games and sports, he makes sure that language learning is as fun as possible. Apart from his own blog, he writes a lot of articles on learning Chinese on Skritter and

Country: Sweden
LanguagesSwedish (native), Mandarin Chinese, English, French, and German

Maha Yakoub

Maha Yakoub polyglot language learnerMaha is a Palestinian polyglot living in Italy, who first started teaching Arabic through private lessons and later moved to YouTube. You can find Arabic, Italian, and Hebrew lessons aimed at beginner and intermediate learners on her channel. She also teaches about Arab culture and shares traditional recipes. There is even a section where she talks about her experience and progress in the German language. Additionally, she organizes 12-day intensive courses in Palestine for people who want to learn Arabic. Despite having been the target of Islamophobia and negative comments, she has calmly carried on teaching languages to this day. Maha truly deserves her spot on this list of the most inspiring and famous polyglots!

Country: Palestine
LanguagesArabic (native), Italian, Hebrew, German, English
YouTube Channel: Learn Arabic with Maha

Brian Kwong

34-of-the-most-inspiring-and-famous-polyglots-in-the-world-mosalinguaBrian is originally from Hong Kong but moved to the U.S. when he was 12. There, he was bullied for his poor English skills, and because of this, he found it hard to learn English. Later in life, when he started Add1Challenge (encouraged by the support he received from other learners when he decided to learn German), he made sure it would be a pleasant, stress-free, and encouraging environment. Something we love and completely agree with!

Country: Hong Kong
LanguagesMandarin, Cantonese, English, German, Romanian and Japanese

Kris Broholm

34-of-the-most-inspiring-and-famous-polyglots-in-the-world-mosalinguaGrowing up, Kris was a top student. Not only that, but he loved foreign language lessons. That is, until his parents’ divorce and, later, the death of his father. Higher education in Denmark is not only free, but paid, so that’s what Kris did. And it is also where he was diagnosed with depression. He felt as though he was moving through life without a true purpose. What helped him out of this was watching famous polyglots on YouTube learn languages.

Learning languages while traveling is something he always wanted to do. It gave him a purpose and a reason to live. He now does exactly this, and his goal is to learn ten languages in ten years! On his website, he gives tips and talks about his language-learning journey to help others learn languages.

Kris Broholm doesn’t claim that you’ll become fluent in your target language overnight, or even over the course of a year. However, he does provide a massive range of resources to help inspire your language-learning journey. He also produces a podcast about resources, articles, and inspirational people.

Country: Denmark
LanguagesDanish (native), English, German, Esperanto, Russian, and Hungarian

Susanna Zaraysky

Susanna Zaraysky polyglotTo say that Susanna loves traveling is an understatement, because she has traveled to 50 countries, and lived in nine of them! Needless to say, she is no stranger to languages. On her website, we learned that “she has given presentations at the Defense and State Departments of the United States to help diplomats and military personnel learn languages using music.” She has also spoken in various countries, at countless universities and conferences, and her language learning techniques have been featured on TV channels such as CNN, BBC, NBC, CBS, and The Guardian. In other words, Susanna is a pretty incredible woman, and she fits in quite well with the rest of our famous polyglots! Her blog and podcast are very interesting, too. Check them out if you have the chance.

Country: Russia
Languages: Russian (native), English (native), French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Serbo-Croatian

Lindsay Williams

Lindsay Williams polyglotLindsay first started learning French in primary school. She didn’t care too much about the language back then. However, getting to have croissants at the end of the year made her stick with it. She later developed a love for one of Shakira’s songs and decided to learn Spanish because of it. She took Spanish as an elective in addition to her French classes, and that’s how her love of languages grew. Having taught everyone from individuals to corporate groups, she now teaches languages online via Skype. Apart from teaching both French and Spanish, she is one of the most active on this list of famous polyglots as she vlogs, blogs and does podcasts about languages.

Country: Great Britain
Languages: English (native) Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch

Gabriel Wyner

gabriel wyner famous polyglotsGabriel has a systematic approach to learning and teaching languages that he developed after learning German in 14 weeks. To prove that his method was effective, he became fluent in French in five months, and then learned Russian in nine months. He is a strong believer that learners shouldn’t just translate at first, but should instead focus on correct pronunciation. He also believes, like us and like many other famous polyglots, that they should use flashcards for memorizing vocabulary.

Country: USA
Languages: English (native), German, French, Russian, Italian, Hungarian, Japanese

Gabriel Gelman

gabriel gelman polyglotAnother Gabriel also made our list, this time from Germany. Gabriel Gelman is the creator of Sprachheld, one of the most popular language blogs in German-speaking countries.

Gabriel was raised bilingual (German and Russian) but did not stop there, because he later decided to learn French and Spanish. During a talk at the polyglot gathering, he admitted that he is a lazy polyglot who is always looking for the best methods to learn a language without spending too much time and effort. Needless to say, we like this approach – get 80% of the results with only the 20% of the effort.

Country: Germany
Languages: German (native), Russian, French, Spanish, English, and Hebrew
YouTube Channel: Sprachheld

Luca interviewed Gabriel at the Polyglot Gathering 2017 in Bratislava. Their video is in French, but you can turn on English subtitles if needed.

You’ll find more videos like this one on our YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe while you’re there!

Jan Van Der Aa

Famous Polyglots - Jan Van Der JaJan likes to call himself a bad student and on his website he tells us that his English teacher suggested he “choose a career for which foreign languages were not needed.” We can definitely say that this teacher was wrong because today Jan is a successful polyglot who has learned not only English, but also another 9 languages!

He has also made languages part of his professional life because Jan is the co-founder of Language Boost, a company that creates courses to learn languages (the other co-founder is Lucas Bighetti, another impressive polyglot from Brazil). Born and raised in Holland, Jan is also a passionate traveler who managed to visit 100 countries by his twenties.

Country: The Netherlands
Languages: Dutch (native), Mandarin, French, Brazilian Portuguese, German, Spanish, Cantonese, and some Russian and Thai
YouTube Channel:
Jan & Lucas – LanguageBoost

Emily Liedel

emily liedel polyglot Emily started out as a journalist and later turned to copywriting, photography, translating, coaching, web designing, blogging, and tour guiding. Her goal was to learn all of the UN official languages and become fluent in them by 2019. Consequently, she would be able to communicate with close to 35 percent of the world’s population. Her blog gives tons of language-learning tutorials and tips that are great for those who are interested in learning the most common and useful languages.

Country: USA
Languages: English (native), French, Russian, German, Chinese, Spanish

Noel van Vliet

noel famous polyglotsNoel van Vliet’s goal is for his readers to learn a new language as efficiently as possible. He is fluent in three languages and has a lot of valuable information to share. He also knows a lot about the benefits of learning a language. And most importantly, you can tell that Noel is passionate and cares about his readers. We really enjoy his “Case Studies,” where Noel tests out different techniques, products, and language learning tactics.

Country: USA
LanguagesSpanish, French, German, English, Italian and Japanese

Ellen Jovin

34-of-the-most-inspiring-and-famous-polyglots-in-the-world-mosalinguaEllen is a former freelance writer, and founder of Syntaxis, a communication skills training firm. In 2009, she decided to stop freelancing and start learning as many languages she could find in New York City (where about 800 languages are spoken) simply because of her love for New York and languages! The original plan was to only do this for a year, but she hasn’t been able to stop. To date, she has studied more than 20 languages! Her aim is not to learn the languages to full fluency, but to achieve a conversational level. On her blog, you can find out more about her experience with learning languages.

Country: USA
Languages: English, French, and Spanish

Stephen Krashen

34-of-the-most-inspiring-and-famous-polyglots-in-the-world-mosalinguaKrashen is the author of more than 525 articles and books on the topics of bilingual education, neurolinguistics, second language acquisition, and literacy! He became an activist for bilingualism in his home state of California as it became increasingly hostile toward bilingualism. There’s no need to mention the language-learning community owes him a lot! Of course, he wouldn’t be on this list if it were just for that. He enjoys learning new languages, which he discovered while studying piano in Vienna! He now speaks 5 languages and is on his way to his sixth with Mandarin Chinese.

Country: USA
Languages: English, Hebrew, German, French, and Spanish


Inspiring and Famous Hyperpolyglots

As promised, these are some inspiring and famous hyperpolyglots who speak 12 or more languages!

Richard Simcott

richard First on our list, Richard is a hyperpolyglot who has studied over 40 languages. He has been described as one of the most multilingual persons in the United Kingdom by HarperCollins and was named Ambassador for Multilingualism by the Goethe-Institut. One of the reasons he and Alex Rawlings are two of the most famous polyglots in the world is because of the annual Polyglot Conference they co-organize, which takes place every October. Apart from organizing this amazing event, Richard is a language consultant, offering his expertise on multilingual and multinational projects, for instance.

Country: United Kingdom
LanguagesEnglish (native), French, Spanish, Welsh, German, Macedonian, Swedish, Italian, Serbian/Bosnian/Croatian, Portuguese, Czech, Catalan, Russian, Dutch, Romanian, and Albanian
YouTube Channel: Richard Simcott

Steve Kaufmann

steve kaufmann hyperpolyglotLuckily Steve Kaufmann realized that the reason he was not “good at learning languages” was because of the traditional methods he was trying to use. He was only seventeen years old when he joined the polyglot club. Fifty odd years later, and he is now a hyperpolyglot and co-founder of Linq. Since his mid-fifties, he has started putting more effort into language learning, thus proving that it’s never too late to learn a language. Apart from being an avid language learner, he is also president of a company involved in the international wood products trade.

Country: Canada
LanguagesEnglish (native), Ukrainian, Korean, Romanian, Swedish, Portuguese, French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Czech, Russian, Italian, and Japanese
YouTube channel: Steve Kaufmann – lingosteve
Product: Linq

Luca Lampariello

PolyglotLuca Lampariello is a famous polyglot from Rome (Italy). He has a very peculiar approach to language learning. It is based on bidirectional translation.  Basically, Luca learns vocab and grammar by reading bilingual texts and constantly comparing the original to the translation. Lampariello has also mastered the art of the accent. If you ever hear him speaking your native language, you will be surprised by how close he can imitate a native speaker’s accent. We had the opportunity to interview him, so you can learn more about his approach here.

Besides being an amazing language learner, we love the fact that Luca Lampariello has a gift for sharing his passion for language—something we can obviously relate to!

Country: Italy
Languages: Italian (native), English, French, German, Spanish, Swedish, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, and Hungarian.
YouTube Channel: Luca Lampariello
How he learns language: translating, comparing bidirectional texts, speaking

Elisa Polese

Famous Polyglots: Elisa PoleseElisa Polese is a passionate and enthusiastic language lover and polyglot. She can speak and teach 13 languages! But if we include all the languages she has studied and speaks at a basic level, we can say that Elisa speaks more than 20 languages!

Originally from Naples, Elisa has lived in many countries (UK, Russia, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, and Switzerland) where she has taught foreign languages to hundreds of students. She is also a well-known speaker at international conferences. In addition to dealing with language learning, she also focuses on multilingual teaching and intercultural communication. She always makes sure she spreads her contagious love for languages. We must say that here at MosaLingua we absolutely love her approach to language learning and teaching, and we are really happy to have her as the only female hyperpolyglot in our ranks!

She recently spoke to Luca (MosaLingua co-founder and a fellow Neapolitan) about how she has managed to learn so many languages. Check out the extended interview right here or on our YouTube channel:

Country: Italy
Languages: Italian (native), English, German, Spanish, Russian, French, Dutch, Catalan, Portuguese, Greek, Hindi, Arabic, Esperanto, Hungarian, Sinhalese, Mandarin Chinese, Vietnamese, Serbian, Ukrainian, Hebrew, Turkish, and Polish.
YouTube Channel: PassionForLanguages

Alex Rawlings

alex Alex is English and of Greek descent. In 2012, he competed against other famous polyglots to earn the title of Britain’s most multilingual student. He and Richard Simcott are co-organizers of the Polyglot Conference Luca Sadurny writes about here, and they also run polyglot workshops together. Alex also teaches four languages (English, German, Russian, and Greek) and offers consulting and coaching services to people who wish to learn multiple languages at the same time.

Country: United Kingdom
LanguagesEnglish (native), French, German, Spanish, Greek, Dutch, Afrikaans, Italian, Catalan, Hebrew, German, Russian, Yiddish, Hungarian and Serbian

Vladimir Skultety

34-of-the-most-inspiring-and-famous-polyglots-in-the-world-mosalinguaVladimir’s language learning started early in life. He is originally from southeast Slovakia, which is not too far from Hungary. Although neither of his parents spoke the language, they decided to put him into a Hungarian immersion kindergarten class. Since he was living in what at the time was Czechoslovakia, he also learned Czech. At the age of eight, he went to live in the U.S. where he learned English. Then, he moved to Austria when he was 12 and picked up German. He went on to study in Italy and Russia, and later decided to learn French, Spanish and Portuguese. I think you know where this is going… Vladimir now speaks about 12 languages at a C1-C2 level. You can have a look at his incredible language skills in this video where he speaks 19 languages. He is now a translator and interpreter of Slovak, Mandarin Chinese, and English.

Country: Slovakia
Languages: Slovak (native), English, Hungarian, Czech, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Serbian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Dutch, Japanese, and Cantonese
YouTube Channel: Vladimir Skultety
Products: Understanding Chinese Characters

Timothy Doner

famous polyglots timothy donerNext, Timothy is a Harvard student who has been referred to in the media as “The World’s Youngest Hyperpolyglot.” When he was thirteen, he started learning Hebrew through music, and, without actually realizing it, he memorized around 20 songs he liked. You can only imagine his disbelief when he looked up the lyrics and realized he had learned a few hundred words without even trying! And that’s how his language-learning journey to becoming one of the world’s most famous polyglots began. He started learning Arabic, moved to Persian, then Russian, then Mandarin, and so on. In 2014, he started The Teen Polyglot Challenge, where teens are challenged to begin learning a language in five weeks and send a video of themselves speaking the language in front of a camera. Apart from this, Timothy has given talks at Sapphire, TedxTeen, and Apple. Not bad at all!

Country: USA
LanguagesEnglish (native), French, Hausa, Wolof, Russian, German, Yiddish, Hebrew, Arabic, Pashto, Persian, Mandarin, Italian, Turkish, Indonesian, Dutch, Xhosa, Kiswahili, Hindi, Ojibwe, Kinyarwanda, and Creole
YouTube Channel: 
Polyglot Pal


Emanuele Marini

famous polyglotsEmanuele is a real mystery in the language learning world, but he is definitely in the famous polyglots club. He has practically no online presence and was only “discovered” at the Polyglot Conference a few years ago. He was spontaneously tested (see video below) to see whether his claims were true, and, indeed, they were. His language-learning method is picking up books he finds interesting in any of the languages he wants to learn. Then, using a dictionary (often of another language he’s learning), he goes on to decipher their meaning. Later in the process, he does language exchanges, and, with the help of a native speaker, learns more of the language. After getting the basics down, he travels to a country where the language is spoken in order to meet natives and get a better grasp of the language. So, how many languages does Emanuele know? Oh, only 34!

Country: Italy
Languages: Italian (native), Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Finnish, French, Greek, English, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Dutch, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, German, Turkish, Hungarian, Ukrainian, Latin, classical Greek, and Hebrew

Cesco Reale

hyperpolyglot cesco realeAnd finally, an Italian phonetics and pronunciation expert (IPA certified) and Esperanto lover, Cesco speaks a whopping 16 languages. He is the UN representative of the World Esperanto Association. Reale especially likes combining games, languages, and math. He helps organize language-related events, for example, the Polyglot Gathering (first with Judith Meyer and now with Lydia Machova) and various others.

Country: Italy
Languages: Italian (native), Esperanto, French, Spanish, Portuguese, English, German, Catalan, Romanian, Greek, Latin, Galician, Chinese, Russian, Sardinian, and Dutch.

YouTube Channel: 
Cesco Reale

Bonus Famous Polyglots

MosaLingua Co-Founder Luca Sadurny

Luca Sadurny - MosaLingua's Co-founder and PolyglotOf course, we couldn’t leave our co-founder, Luca Sadurny, off this list of famous polyglots! Luca started learning languages on his own when he was 22. At that time, despite his 12 years of traditional language learning at school, Luca could not speak English fluently. After succeeding in teaching himself French with unconventional methods, Luca realized that traditional methods just don’t work. He had to create his own method. He explains why he learned the languages he did in this multilingual video, in which he speaks six different languages.

Luca’s mission is to inspire others to learn languages and to show them that anyone can succeed. In other words, he believes that if even a non-naturally talented language learner like himself can learn several languages, his example should inspire and encourage others.

He’s also one of the creators of the numerous MosaLingua language learning products and training programs for mobile and computer. They can help anyone who wants to have the pleasure of speaking one or more foreign languages.

Country: Italy
LanguagesItalian (native), Neapolitan (native), English, Spanish, French, Romanian, Portuguese, and German
YouTube Channel: MosaLingua
Product: The MosaLingua apps and MosaLingua Premium (Web & Mobile)
How he learns languages: flashcards and SRS for vocab, language exchange for speaking and using fun material for improving his listening skills


Multilingual Celebrities & Famous Polyglots Throughout History

Lastly, we want to mention a few famous polyglots and language lovers who didn’t make language their career, but who are notable nonetheless. These multilingual historical figures and celebrities include:

  • Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

    who could read at least English, Greek, Latin, French, Italian, and Spanish. His library also had books about the Welsh, Arabic, and Gaelic languages, but historians can’t confirm whether or not his interest went much further.

  • Another famous Thomas, Thomas Young (1773-1829)

    was a polymath in addition to being a hyper-polyglot. As a teen, one of his interests was translating biblical passages into 13 languages, including a few you may not have even heard of, like Chaldean, Samaritan, and Syriac! He even deciphered some of the Rosetta Stone, though he isn’t often credited for his work.

  • J.R.R. Tolkein (1892–1973)

    an author and prolific language inventor, most famous for developing the many constructed languages in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings franchises. He also reportedly knew an incredible 35 natural languages, including Finnish and Lithuanian.

  • Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993)

    traveled the world quite a bit, both for her acting career and for the humanitarian work with UNICEF that she was passionate about. Along the way, she picked up six languages. Listen to her speak them here.

  • Natalie Portman (1981-)

    isn’t just an Academy Award-winning actress. She also fits our definition of polyglot! She is fluent in English and Hebrew and knows some Japanese, German, French, and Spanish. (Apparently she needs to brush up on her American Sign Language, though. 😳)

  • Trevor Noah (1984-)

    makes a living talking and being funny, but mostly in English. Not many people know that he speaks 7 of the 11 official languages of South Africa (Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Tsonga, Tswana, Southern Sotho, and Xhosa—one of the languages on our list of the coolest languages), where he grew up, plus German.

Start learning a new language today

34-of-the-most-inspiring-and-famous-polyglots-in-the-world-mosalinguaDid this article make you want to learn one or several languages?

Good news: we can help!
More good news: you can get started for free! Start your free trial now and for the next 15 days, take advantage of the most effective language learning method on the market!

Vocabulary flashcards, videos with subtitles, audiobooks, articles adapted to your level – with MosaLingua Premium (Web & Mobile), you’ll have access to all this and more. Get started right now. It’s free—and risk-free—to try!

Start your MosaLingua Premium free trial

Inspired? Here’s how to be a polyglot

I hope you enjoyed this article on the most inspiring and famous polyglots in the world, and that it will motivate you to learn one or more languages for yourself. Now, to get started, learn from the best! Check out all of these famous polyglots and their websites, read what they have to say about learning languages, and watch their YouTube videos. You can also check out Polyglot Station, a new project to bring together polyglots from all over the world. (You might even see a familiar face at the top of the Connect page!) In short, go learn a language! 🙂