Famous Bilinguals (Who May Surprise You!)

Pimsleur Approach • October 13, 2011 • Language LearningComments (5)

Celebrities are often frozen in our minds like the characters they play or the persona they put forward to the world. We can often expect them to emulate the personalities of those they portray onscreen. But many celebrities are so much more than their characters, and have a wide range of diverse interests.

Here are some celebrities you may have never suspected are bilingual:

Famous Bilinguals (Who May Surprise You!)

Image via Wikipedia

Clint Eastwood, Actor/Director/Author
He’s the rough-and- tumble guy who’s spawned several super-tough pop culture references (“go ahead, make my day”), the Western hero who always gets the bad guy, and the hard-as-nails coach with guts to perform euthanasia on his star protégé. He’s the kind of guy you wouldn’t necessarily think of as being fluent in Italian, but he is! And get this, he learned Italian while filming his most famous Spaghetti Westerns (so called because they were shot in Italy), The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and A Fistful of Dollars.

Famous Bilinguals (Who May Surprise You!)

Image via Wikipedia

Madonna, Singer
If you happened to have grown up in the 80’s, you might recall your parents shaking their head over Madonna’s music and image. Perceived as somewhat of a bad influence on young girls at the time and perhaps not all that bright, some moms would mutter that she was “dumb like a fox” and as the years went by, marvel at her business acumen as she built her empire and practically invented the concept of “reinventing” herself. Madonna has always had some knowledge of French and Italian, and is now taking private French lessons to hone her skills. For a more comprehensive list of celebrities who speak French, also see http://french.about.com/od/teachingresources/a/celebrities.htm

Famous Bilinguals (Who May Surprise You!)

Image via Wikipedia

Kobe Bryant, Basketball Player
He was born in Philadelphia, PA and is much beloved by basketball fans the world over.  He’s won the All Star MVP award four times and a gold medal along with his team members at the 2008 US Olympics. His whole life has been dedicated to basketball, but when he was six years old, his family moved to Italy and he found a passion for languages. He’s fluent in Spanish as well as Italian. Kobe is so fond of languages that he currently runs a bilingual blog in Chinese and English, which can be seen at http://blog.sina.com.cn/nbakobebryant and he is a proponent of all children being taught to be bilingual.

Famous Bilinguals (Who May Surprise You!)

Image via Zimbio

Jon Heder, Actor (Napoleon Dynamite)
You may recognize him as the quirky, out-of-place character in the film Napoleon Dynamite or as himself in the web TV series Dead Grandma. Jon Heder has had quite a prolific career since his debut in 2000 and has stayed firmly encamped in the indie movie and web scene since then. Mostly all of his film and television roles are extremely whimsical, comical and upbeat, but Jon has a serious and studious side too. While on a mission in Japan for his church, Jon learned to speak fluent Japanese. In the hilarious film Blades of Glory with Will Ferrell, he puts his skills to good use; his character answers a reporter’s question in Japanese.

Famous Bilinguals (Who May Surprise You!)

Image via Wikipedia

Natalie Portman, Actress
She’s got the face of an angel and an Academy Award for her acting chops, but in addition to her work accomplishments, Natalie Portman is widely known in the film industry as being highly brilliant. She graduated from Harvard with a degree in Psychology. Actor Javier Bardem says he felt like a “donkey” next to her and that “she’s so intelligent, it’s scary.”  She speaks fluent Hebrew and often gives interviews in Hebrew while traveling in Israel.

5 Responses to “ Famous Bilinguals (Who May Surprise You!) ”

  1. Dave says:

    Interesting article. Were did you got all the information from… :)

  2. Vincent says:

    thanks !! very helpful post!

  3. Monte Effner says:

    Instructive and precise…

  4. Gabrielle Soleman says:

    Excellent web site. Lots of useful info here. I’m sending it to some friends and also sharing on delicious. And obviously, thanks for your sweat!

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