Famous Polyglots & Their Best Ways to Learn a Language

Famous Polyglots & Their Best Ways to Learn a Language

All online English tutors recommend different measures to learn English vocabulary. This is because English vocabulary is where most English learning aspirants struggle. Words that sound alike often cause many people trouble.

If English is not your mother tongue, mistakes over the complexities of the English language are bound to happen. As an online English speaking course in India, we believe that it is imperative that our students should know if not all but the most common words that confuse native speakers.

Most online spoken English classes will have a ready reckoner of vocabulary building recommendations that students can refer. But we all need some motivation! In today’s blog we discuss how some brilliant individuals have learnt not only English but several other languages fluently!

With these tips, when you learn English online, you will definitely sound more confident especially when you speak with English language experts.

Who is a polyglot?

A polyglot is someone who is able to speak, use, and understand several languages. Is It Possible to Be a Polyglot? Does it require a special talent? Well, one can become a polyglot and it does not require any special talent. How do children learn a language? Is it by imitation? Reading? The answer is no; they learn by listening. In a recent study, sixteen pregnant mothers were asked to read ‘The Cat in the Hat’ to their unborn child twice a day for the final seven weeks of pregnancy. You’ll be amazed to know that after birth, the infants were found to display clear preference for ‘The Cat in the Hat’ over another stories. It’s amazing, isn’t it?

Well, each polyglot might have their own specific method, but these are three main methods:

  1. Speak first: When you start learning a language, you will be able to only say a few words and progressively more. This method motivates you to speak words first and then continue building your fluency by speaking regularly.
  2. Listen & Read first: The idea is to read and listen as much as possible. With each new text, you learn more words, phrases and can move on to more complex texts and comprehend them.
  3. Translate first: You begin by translating texts from the foreign language to your native language and then vice versa. You learn vocabulary by translating into your target language. All you have to do is to look up the right words and since you are already speaking or using them, you memorise them more quickly.

There are many brilliant multi-linguists who have their own self-made origin. Let’s read more about these polyglots to understand the best ways to learn a language.

  • Richard Simcott
  • Languages Known: English (native), French, Spanish, Welsh, German, Macedonian, Swedish, Italian, Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, Portuguese, Czech, Catalan, Russian, Dutch, Romanian and Albanian. He is also known as hyperpolyglot as he has studied over 40 languages.

His learning tip: When starting a new language is lots of reading and writing. One should go to a bookshop or a library and pick up something that interests them. You can definitely go deeper into the book to understand the quality of the dialogues, texts or anything that helps you stay motivated to learn the language.

  • Benny Lewis
  • Languages Known: English (native), Spanish, Esperanto, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, American Sign Language, Dutch and Irish

His learning tip: Collect a few words and phrases from the language you would like to learn. After researching, he went to that country where the language is used and started communicating with them. Therefore, speaking and communication is an essential part of learning any language. Additionally, gather more vocabulary and practise it several times.

  • Steve Kaufmann
  • Languages Known: English (native), Ukrainian, Korean, Romanian, Swedish, Portuguese, French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Czech, Russian, Italian, and Japanese

His learning tip: Get a lot of inputs before speaking. It’s better to listen and read a lot before talking. He advocates first improving your reading and listening skills as much as possible.

  • Olly Richards:
  • Languages Known: English (native), Japanese, Cantonese, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian and Arabic

His learning tip: Start by getting a textbook and do a thorough reading until you get a solid foundation. Focus on the dialogues in particular in that textbook that you are reading. Read and listen to them until you understand and can comprehend them completely.

  • Luca Lampariello
  • Languages Known: Italian (native), English, French, German, Spanish, Swedish, Russian, Dutch, Portuguese, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, and Hungarian.

His learning tip: Luca encourages to learn the language every day. He translates between languages to know the patterns and structure of the language and acquire new words. The man behind “The Polyglot Dream” says that the faster one learns a language, the quicker one forgets. He advises to learn slowly and not cram any language.

  • Lýdia Machová
  • Languages Known: Slovak (native), English, German, Spanish, French, Polish, Esperanto, Russian, Swahili.

Her learning tip: She advises learning languages through application. This means speaking them or doing practical exercises for grammar acquisition and trying to focus on enjoyable methods for learning and not cramming them.

  • Lindsay Williams
  • Languages Known: English (native) Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch

Her learning tip: First, do a little bit of writing, then start chatting with natives. Start speaking eventually, at your own convenience. Learn with material that is fun for you. For Example- If you like cooking, learn about cooking rather than playing. Once done, keep practising whatever you have learnt.

  • Vladimir Skultety
  • Languages Known: Slovak (native), English, Hungarian, Czech, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Serbian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Dutch,

His learning tip: First learn the 500 most important words. Use the words in sentences, speak to yourself and record yourself to know your mistakes. Then, begin to speak to natives. This is best done with a language tutor. Focus on grammar and tones. Once you can speak, you can begin to read some comics. This method will be helpful to read quickly once you can speak the language.

  • Alex Rawlings
  • Languages Known: English (native), French, German, Spanish, Greek, Dutch, Afrikaans, Italian, Catalan, Hebrew, German, Russian, Yiddish, Hungarian and Serbian

His learning tip: Try out different methods to see which one goes best for you. It is better to learn words in conversation by asking the other person to provide a translation, using the word right away.

The above data shows you that every polyglot has a different system, however, they all got the identical result, i.e.- fluency in a language. Polyglots are certainly rare. Studies show that only about 3% of the world’s total population can speak four or more languages. It doesn’t matter which method you choose. As long as you apply the language, you are going to make progress. Follow the tips above and you’ll surely achieve your goal!

Develop your personal concept of learning foreign languages and you’re good to go!

Contributed by - Anjana Dutta

Related Article: Role of dictionary in language learning | Importance of a great English vocabulary | Gestures in language learning

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