CELEBRITIES WHO SPEAK MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE
Speaking more than one language can mean more than conversing with someone from another country in their mother tongue. It can open doors to whole new worlds and opportunities, for business and pleasure.
For some famous actors English is a second language and had to be learned before breaking into Hollywood, while other celebrities were raised bilingual. Others have taught themselves a second language just for the simple pleasure of it.
Here are 12 celebrities that might surprise you with their language skills.
Sandra Bullock has been acting since 1984 and is considered one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.
Raised in a bilingual household, she speaks fluent German. She spent 12 years growing up in Nuremberg, where her father was in charge of the U.S. Army’s Military Postal Service in Europe. She frequently travelled to Germany with her opera singer mother and still held dual citizenship until she was 18. Her mother insisted that she be raised knowing both English and German.
Born and raised in Germany, Christoph Waltz is trilingual. He speaks his native German and is also fluent in French and English. He effortlessly displayed his skills in the 2009 movie Inglorious Basterds, in which he had lines in all three languages. This performance won him an Academy Award, a BAFTA and a Golden Globe for best supporting actor.
Not counting an obvious knowledge of computer languages, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is extremely competent at speaking Mandarin. He has been practising for 9 years now and has given a number of presentations in almost fluent Mandarin, with proper tone, grammar and vocabulary. This says a lot, because Mandarin is a very difficult language to learn.
If you ever hear Bradley Cooper speak French in a movie, you can be assured it is the real deal. Cooper speaks practically fluent French, which he learned after being inspired by an actor speaking French in the movie Chariots of Fire when he was younger. He has an English degree from Georgetown University, where he also studied French. He took advantage of an exchange program and studied in Aix-en-Provence while living with a host family.
English is a second language to Mila Kunis, who moved to America with her family when she was 7 years old. Originally from Ukraine, Mila began her life speaking Russian and says moving to an English-speaking country as a young child was like “being blind and deaf at age seven.”
Natalie Portman is a true polyglot and speaks a number of languages. As well as English, she speaks Hebrew, Japanese, Spanish, German and French. She was born in Jerusalem and moved to the US when she was 3. She is not only an accomplished linguist, but a published research scientist, director and mother.
Starting in television as a child and going on to become one of the biggest stars in the world, Leonardo DiCaprio is able to converse in German and Italian. With a German mother and an Italian-German father, it is not surprising that German was spoken in the family home. He spent some of his childhood living with his maternal grandparents in Germany, where he got to practice the language.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a proud Francophile and speaks French fluently. He studied French poetry at Columbia University and still conducts the occasional interview in French.
Will Smith is considered the most bankable star in the world by Forbes magazine, having grossed over 8 billion dollars in global box office takings. On top of a number of MIB alien languages, he also speaks Spanish. He speaks confidently in Spanish during interviews on Spanish speaking television and had a Spanish speaking role in the movie Seven Pounds. His wife Jada Pinkett Smith also speaks the language.
Before their separation in 2012, Johnny Depp and his partner, the French actress Vanessa Paradis, split their time living between New York and Paris. It is entirely appropriate that the star speaks almost fluent French as a result. The language is second nature for Depp now, as he has spoken it for the past 20 years. When appearing in the French media he always speaks French.
Matt Damon is also rated one of the most bankable stars in the world by Forbes magazine. His wife Luciano Barroso is Argentinian, but he spoke Spanish long before they met. As a teenager he studied Spanish through immersion in Mexico and later practiced it by backpacking through Guatemala and Mexico.
After spending a month with a host family in Spain when she was 15, Gwyneth Paltrow fell in love with the Spanish language and culture, and hasn’t looked back since. She still spends time in Spain visiting the same host family and speaks fluent Spanish. She has taught Spanish to both her children, wanting to raise them to be bilingual.