The Viral Polyglot Reporter and Other Multilingual Celebrities
On Tuesday 22nd February, a video of an Associated Press journalist became globally viral while covering the conflict between Ukraine and Russia from Kyiv, which he has presented in no less than six different languages.
Today, we will tell you how Crowther became an Internet sensation overnight and we’ll take a look at other multilingual celebrities in the hope that you will be inspired to learn a few languages yourself.
One of the most celebrated pop singers of the 21st century, Shakira is known for her distinctive vocals, incisive lyrics, and impressive belly-dancing moves.
What you probably didn’t know is that her Arab musical and dance rhythms are more than just a stylistic choice. Shakira, which means “grateful” in Arabic”, was born in Barranquilla, Colombia in 1977. She is the daughter of Nidia del Carmen Ripoll Torrado (whose parents were Italian) and William Mebarak, of Lebanese descent.
Due to her rich family history, her extensive tours around the world, and her innate linguistic ability, Shakira is fluent in English, French, Arabic, Italian, Portuguese, and her native Spanish.
Being a UNICEF ambassador, Shakira’s had numerous opportunities to demonstrate her impressive linguistic talents. In this clip, for example, you can hear her speak and sing in 6 languages, including French and Catalan.
Natalie Portman is one of the most iconic actors of her generation. She is most famous for her roles as Jackie Kennedy in Jackie, Padmé Amidala in the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, and her Oscar-winning turn in Black Swan.
In 2015, she surprised the world by getting behind the cameras to direct her first feature film, A Tale of Love and Darkness (Hebrew: סיפור על אהבה וחושך), based on the autobiographical novel of the same name by Amos Oz. But it wasn’t Portman’s keen eye for visuals or her talent as a director of actors that wowed people the most. Many people who went to see her directorial debut, were most surprised by the fact that the film is mainly spoken in Hebrew, with a few scenes in Arabic, English and Russian.
Portman, who was born in Jerusalem to Jewish parents with roots in Poland, Austria and Russia, insisted that the movie had to be shot in Hebrew, and that every other language depicted in the book as authentically shown in the movie, refusing the studio’s suggestion to have American actors speak English with different accents.
An evident language lover, Portman has also appeared in several films where she has used her language abilities, and she is known for adapting to interviewers’ first language when promoting her films.
Watch a clip of Portman speaking five languages, including Japanese and Arabic.
Tom Hiddleston, who jumped to international fame thanks to his portrayal of Loki in the Thor movies, is a British actor known for his piercing blue eyes, posh accent, and… K-Pop moves?
That’s right. During the promotion of Thor 2 on Korean television, Hiddleston gleefully gave in to a strange fan request and danced to an electro-pop song with surprising grace.
But Hiddleston’s venture into K-Pop wasn’t the first time he made headlines for his multicultural talents. Whilst at University, he studied classic literature, which led him to become infatuated with languages like Greek, Spanish and French. Since then, he has given many interviews in these languages and, though his pronunciation is not always perfect, he more than makes up for it with fluency and charisma.
In October 2010, a Shangai newspaper published a story that read:
“Roger Federer, one of the top three tennis players in the world, is ready to add Mandarin to the long list of languages he already speaks. Federer is currently in China participating in the Shanghai Masters and is using his free time to take lessons in Mandarin, the official Chinese language, taking advantage of the fact that he travelled alone to this event, without the company of his wife and two daughters.”
Without realizing it, this Chinese publication was answering one of our readers’ most burning questions: how does one become a polyglot? By being naturally curious, tirelessly studious, and more importantly, by taking every learning opportunity that comes your way.
In this case, of course, it helps that Federer is Swiss. In Switzerland, culture and law dictate that people have to be able to speak at least two of the four languages that have official status in their country: German, French, Italian and Romansh. Federer, however, chose to learn the first three when he was at school and has since been feeding his love of languages with new additions such as Swedish and Mandarin.
Finally, the man of the moment.
Philip Crowther is an international journalist who works for the Associated Press. On February 22, 2022, he went viral on social networks after posting on his Twitter account a video of himself flawlessly reporting on the conflict between Ukraine and Russia against the backdrop of the Ukrainian capital’s Freedom Square in six languages: English, Luxembourgish, Spanish, Portuguese, French and German,” the reporter tweeted.
Since then, the video has been shared by more than 31,000 times, with Internet users highlighting his ability to switch from one language to the next effortlessly.
Here are some of the most hilarious tweets about Crowther are:
“And now he’s speaking Luxembourgish? That’s just showing off”. (Dandy Roddick)
“This guy is probably some kind of part-time super spy”.(Mulling Mueller)
“Leave some languages for the rest”. (Molly Quell)
“Oh my God, is this man married?? if he’s not, where can I submit my application? (Jennifer
“I’m in love. Ech si verléft. Estoy enamorada. Eu estou apaixonada. Je suis amoureux. Ich bin verliebt. Épouse-moi”. (Charlotte UK City)
As you can see, a polyglot doesn’t have to be a scholar or a bookworm to be a polyglot. All you need is curiosity, motivation, and lots and lots of practice.
You don’t know where to start? Why don’t you take a look into your family tree and find out where you come from? Remember that’s how both Shakira and Natalie Portman connected with their cultural and linguistic roots!
If you want to become the next viral polyglot sensation, reach out to us and we’ll pair you up with a native teacher of whatever language you want to speak for a completely personalized course. What is more, if you send us a quick inquiry by clicking on this link we will offer you a completely free trial lesson.