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4 Amazing Women You Didn’t Know Were Polyglots

On International Women’s Day, we’d love to introduce you to some amazing multilingual women who’ll inspire you to learn a new language. Ready to meet our 4 favorite polyglots?

What is a polyglot? we hear you ask. It’s someone who can speak or write in several different languages, as opposed to a monoglot, who only communicates in one.

Shakira

5 languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Most ‘top famous hispanic women lists’ online include Shakira Mebarak. The Colombian singer-songwriter has made a name for herself producing hits in Spanish and English. Shakira learned English via an American ex-boyfriend, Portuguese by touring in Brazil as a teen, and Italian by visiting Italy.

Image by Alejandro Turola from Pixabay 

The musician’s linguistic skills also come in handy in her role as a UN GodWill Ambassador. So, whenever a friend asks you “What is a polyglot?”, just send them this video of Shakira speaking 5 languages and say: “this.” 

Audrey Hepburn

6 languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

Audrey Hepburn learned English and Dutch from her British father and Dutch mother. She picked up French during her school years in Belgium, and later in life learned Italian during her second marriage to an Italian psychiatrist. 

There was more to Hepburn than being one of Hollywood’s most famous actresses. She lived in Nazi-occupied Holland during WWII and supported the Dutch Resistance, and later spent part of her life working as a UN GoodWill Ambassador

Although Hepburn’s celebrity spotlight will always shine the brightest, there’s no doubt that she was a language star who deserves a spot in our list of amazing women.

Image by aks9215 from Pixabay 

Malala Yousufazi

3 languages: English, Pashto, and Urdu (currently learning Swahili).

Malala rose to worldwide fame after advocating for women’s education in Pakistan despite facing harsh repression from the Taliban. Her work earned her the Nobel Peace Prize, making her the youngest recipient of the award

And if that isn’t amazing enough, here she is cruising through four languages to celebrate International Mother Language Day, showing the internet what a polyglot is.

Maya Angelou

6 languages: English, French, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, and West African Fanti.

Did you know that American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou speaks 5 languages? Before an interview with The Atlantic, her manager made sure to let the interviewer know with an introductory letter:

“Foreign languages: Dr Angelou speaks five different languages. She will enjoy speaking French, Spanish, Hebrew, Italian, or Fanti with you.”

Angelou’s life’s work includes several books of autobiographies that explore the themes of racial, economic, and sexual opression. Her poems include gems like “Still I Rise” and ”On the Pulse of Morning,” and she is widely considered one of the most significant and  famous African American women of all time. 

Maya Angelou reads her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” during President Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration.

Inspired by these amazing women? Start learning today!

All of these amazing polyglot women have one thing in common: they started with one single language. Be it French, Italian, Spanish, or Portuguese, you too can embark on your own journey to fluency today!

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