Polyglots on Youtube

During the past few years youtube has become more and more important. Anyone can upload any video at any time from anywhere with internet access. As camera-phones become more and more common and broad-band internet is installed in more places, there are more and more people who upload videos. Some of those people are Polyglots.

Stuart Jay Raj the Australian Polyglot

As far as I can tell, this is where things really started to take off.  In this video Stuart appears on a Thai television show that encourages learning English and demonstrates his knowledge of nine languages (Thai, English, Lao, Mandarin Chinese, Indonesian, Spanish, Sign Language, Cantonese and Hindi). Despite his considerable abilities, Stuart is not arrogant and is always encouraging to other polyglots. In fact, his videos were very influential in encouraging many of the polyglots below to post their own videos.

Luca the Italian Polyglot

Long time readers of this blog will remember the article I wrote and interview I had with Luca back in August of 2008. The video above was then followed up by more videos of himself speaking in each of his languages: English, Italian, French, German, Spanish, Swedish, Dutch and Russian. One of the things that I find most inspiring about Luca is that he has a true passion for languages. In the past year or so he has learned Portuguese and Mandarin Chinese. I am told that the video in Chinese will be coming soon. By following his ingenious method his has also been able to improve his other languages that were not as solid as he wanted them to be, like Swedish and Russian. He’s still kicking around the idea of making another video in Russian. Like Stuart, Luca is not stingy with his knowledge and has made several videos about his language learning methods.

Mike the American Polyglot

Luca’s video inspired the video above where Mike demonstrates his skills in English, French, Spanish and Lebanese Arabic. One of the things that strikes me is the combination of languages each of these polyglots has. While they all speak languages that one would expect a polyglot to know (English, French, etc.) they all seem to speak at least one surprising language.

Joe the Swedish Polyglot

Also inspired by Luca, Joe decided to share his language abilities with the world. The Scandinavians are famous for speaking English very well and I imagine his Japanese is decent but what really strikes me is that he tries hard to learn Norwegian. Swedish is the dominant of the three Scandinavian languages and it is refreshing to see a Swede really try to learn the language of his neighbor. His video is vulgar in a couple of spots so viewers should be advised.

Richard the British Hyperpolyglot

Richard is an excellent example of what happens when interest, talent and opportunity all come together in one person. His astounding sixteen language video is extremely popular on youtube and it’s no secret why.  The real secret is why neither he nor I can figure out why I can’t get his video to show up here on this blog. If you have any interest in foreign language learning then you really need to watch it .

There are actually many places in the world where knowing three or four languages is normal and knowing six or seven is not at all unheard of. Nowhere else on youtube have we seen such fluency in so many languages. Richard is a family man and rather choosy about what he puts on youtube (an example that many should follow) so there have not been nearly as many follow up videos as we would like to see. He does, however, have videos about what it means to know a language (in Macedonian with English subtitles) and what types of techniques he uses to learn languages (in German with English subtitles).

Amir the Kazakh Polyglot

The world needs more positive domino effects like these.  Amir already had an interest in foreign languages before he saw Richard and Luca. Now that he’s seen what these two amazing polyglots can do, he himself is even more excited to learn different languages and get better at the ones he already speaks.

Mizton the Mexican Polyglot

This guy is one of the best Polyglots on youtube but few seem to know much about him. That’s a shame because this video shows a very good handle on seven languages: three Latin languages, two Germanic languages, Japanese and Nahuatl.  How’s that for variety? Mizton and I have had a few opportunities to chat in the Polyglot chat room and he’s been very helpful and patient with my German.

Steve the Canadian Polyglot

It’s very likely that you are already familiar with Steve’s blog and language learning website. He is quite possibly the most outspoken Polyglot in cyberspace and is a passionate reformer. He openly criticizes and debates formally trained linguists even though he himself has no formal linguistic background. Be that as it may, Steve usually sounds quite convincing since he can communicate, either very fluently or at basic levels, in ten different languages while his opponents often can hardly speak more than one other than their native tongue. It’s hard to argue with results.

There are other great polyglots on the net right now (Alexander Arguelles comes to mind) but this post is about the ones who have made interesting multilingual videos. Wendy Vo’s videos are definitely worth checking out but her language learning seems to be more her parent’s decision than her own since she’s probably only about ten years old. Have I missed anyone else? Are you aware of any noteworthy polyglots on youtube? What do you think of these amazing people featured in this post?

Languages on Television

Even though television is supposed to be a reflextion of real life it seems apparent that it also turns back and influences the life that it reflects. This applies to language learning as well.

My brother actually tried someting similar to this in Spanish when he was a little boy.

Some people just don’t feel like talking in any language.

If you flaunt your language skills you can expect this type of treatment.

Why three way interpreting should be avoided.

Easier said than done.

Do these portrayls of languages and language learning help us or hurt us?

Loose Ends

Although life is busy, the “dust has settled” a bit and I find myself missing this blog terribly. I would like to get back to writing but before I do I feel like there are some things that need to be communicated first. Your help and patience would be most appreciated.


Interview with Dr. Freire

I promise that I actually interviewed him. The problem is that the audio file is almost 100 megabytes. Do any of you know where I could upload this enormous file so it could be linked here for blog readers to have access to it?


Language Test for Ziad Fazah

Ziad has gone missing. In his last email he told me that he was moving to Southern Brazil, where he first lived when he moved from Lebanon. Unfortunately this project will be postponed indefinitely. That is really too bad since the slanderous video that I referred to in my post about him is back on youtube. I promise that Ziad and I have talked about this test in the past and that we have even met. Here is a picture of us when I visited him in Brazil in 2007.

Ryan and Ziad


Dynamite Comes in Small Packages

Though I will be writing again, I will not be able to write once or twice a week like I did before. I plan on producing a decent post once or twice a month. I hope that adding me to, or keeping me in, your feedburner will be an enjoyable experience for you.