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?


14 Responses

  1. […] Polyglots on Youtube « The Linguist Blogger […]

  2. Fantastic.
    How can you not watch any of these people and not get motivated! Two others that I enjoy are Moses McCormic who has almost 300 videos posted http://www.youtube.com/user/laoshu505000


    a young man from Belgium “Loki2504″http://www.youtube.com/user/loki2504
    who is also passionate about languages.
    Both of them post regularly.

  3. I’m probably not as big a hit on Youtube as these guys, but I have a Youtube channel in 7 languages myself 😉

  4. The thing is, I imagine the original post was to find people who speak a lot of languages in a single video as oppose to people speaking multiple languages in multiple videos.

    In the case of Laoshu, I believe this video (with 14 languages in it) could be linked to:

  5. Benny: Do you have a multilingual video that I’m unaware of?

    ccartaginese and lyzazel: I didn’t know that Moses had a video. Thanks for posting it.

  6. @Ryan, never mind – I misunderstood the point of the post; I thought you were talking about polyglots on Youtube in general and not just multilingual videos.
    I *could* upload a multilingual video, but I wouldn’t see the point other than just showing off (which I suppose is the point of nearly all of these videos 😛 ) I prefer to make videos about cultural topics and translate them so that natives can enjoy them. Watching someone talking blank to the camera for 10 minutes isn’t something many people have the patience for so I throw in special effects, background music, lots of changes of scenery and other such silly distractions 😛 Of course, I could always make a compilation video, mixing short scenes from different videos I’ve already made relevant to the language and country. Might do it for the hell of it since it wouldn’t be much editing work!
    Thanks for sharing these. Some impressive individuals there!

  7. OK! Inspired by this post, I made a video that I actually needed to make anyway (as my Youtube page official video). Best part was, that it only took me 5 minutes to edit it! Maybe you only want people talking to the camera, but here is my official 8-language video 🙂

    Besides the usual romance language suspects, I’ve got Irish Gaelic, Esperanto and Czech in the video. The whole idea for me is that languages should be used in natural contexts by polyglots, not one-after-the-other just to show that you can. Since it was little work, I figured why not. I think this video shows the best of both! Enjoy!

  8. Wow, so many polyglots, I’d only heard of Luca and Richard and now Benny.(By the way Benny you should share your video on your own blog)

    To me the most impressive is Richard, not only because of the sixteen or so languages he speaks, but the level at which he has managed to learn some of them like SEnglish, French, Spanish, German, Dutch , Macedonian are at a native or near native level.

    But Kudos to all of you you’re an inspiration for the language learning community.

  9. Dear friend! Thank you so much for dedicating some space to my videos on your blog! It’s a real pleasure to follow it, you’ve got really fascinating stuff here. Muito obrigado! Que te vaya bien!

  10. Thanks for a great blog! It’s really motivating me to make some progress on my long lost language skills (see the weblink).

    We were discussing this at work, that having a CV/resume which states “English as a second language” isn’t greatly respected as the idea “who doesn’t have English as a second language?” crops up. It seems one must have at least another language beyond native + English. So, apart from native = English, 3 languages seems the minimum!

    It seems like 7 languages is a bare minimum for a polyglot. I have some work to do to get there! Wish me luck.


  11. What an excellent post. Since dipping into the Thai language, I have spent a bit of time on YouTube.

    Finding out the opinions of Polyglots is new and interesting to me, but I have a tight focus: I want to know how I can better myself when learning Thai.

    So in the belief that anyone can learn a foreign language (even me), I have craving for their secrets.

    Feed me 🙂

  12. […] There are quite a few others and you can find more examples here. […]

  13. This is all great and I am going to be in touch with Richard. So far I have just sent him a comment – a hybrid, multilingual sentence which I am sure he will understand, perhaps except for Greek.
    And yes, I am inspired; I am working on my own video, watch the space!
    Richard and other English speakers (let‘s include Welsh and Irish) are extraordiary not just for being able to learn a language to this level, but being British and able to learn a language by themselves, to this level. See my comments on this topic at http://www.londonlanguagestudio.co.uk/why-english-students-struggle-to-learn-foreign-languages/
    and I hope to post my video soon.

  14. this one!!. he´s learning 18 languages in 4 months. look at his channel glossika

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