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Bilingual, trilingual or polyglot?

Did you know that the world’s population has more multilingual people than speakers of just one language? If you can speak two languages, you’re bilingual; three and you’re trilingual. If you speak even more, you might be known as a polyglot.

A few polyglots, past and present

There have always been people who can talk or write in several tongues. For example, German polyglot Emil Krebs could communicate in 68 languages. Kató Lomb, a Hungarian interpreter and translator, worked in 16 languages.

A modern-day polyglot who can speak more languages than we can imagine doing is American professor Alexander Arguelles, who fluently speaks about 36 languages.

Another example is teenager Timothy Doner. He became well known via his YouTube videos, in which he speaks more than 20 languages. Have you done this too? Add a link in the comments!

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How did they learn so many languages?

The key to picking up a new tongue is the same, whether you’re learning foreign language number 2 or 22! On his website, Alexander Arguelles gives these tips for success:

  • Stay focused on learning
  • Use clever study methods and good materials
  • Study regularly over a long time
  • Take active control of your learning
  • Make the most of resources like books and recordings

Become a polyglot with Busuu!

With Busuu, you can learn up 12 different languages! Whether you want to become a polyglot or to simply learn one new language, we’ve got the tools to help you.

  • Speak to native speakers using the Busuu chat tool and get their feedback on writing exercises and voice recordings.
  • Study with our Learning Units, designed by language experts and based on a tried-and-tested method.
  • Set targets and track your progress using My Goal, to help you stay motivated.
  • Download the Busuu mobile app (for iOS and Android) to keep learning, even on the move.
  • Try our other fun tools, like Live Units, the ‘London Central’ video course, Grammar Guides and more!

Loving couple having fun on the beach

Which languages do you speak?

Are you bilingual, trilingual or a polyglot? Which languages do you speak and how did you learn them? How many languages have you learnt with Busuu? Let us know in the comments – we’d love to read your stories!

12 thoughts on “Bilingual, trilingual or polyglot?

  1. Daniel Binggeli

    Native lang. is German (more exactely: Swiss German (Schwyzerdütsch), that is not written).
    2nd lang. is French; started to learn F at secondary school at the age of 10/11 and had F again in later educations (commercial apprent.; Matura/Abitur).
    3rd lang. is English; started to learn it while the commercial apprent.; but above all while travelling later on.
    4th lang. is Italian; started at the Gymnasium at the age of 22. Later on studied It at the Universita per Stranieri in Perugia, Italy.
    5th lang. is Portuguiese; started learning by listening, while staying twice over wintertime in Brasil at the age of 27/28.
    “6th” lang. is Spanisch; basic knowledge through travelling in South-America with 18 and 22 and later on using it once in a while in Spain.

  2. Juan Alberto

    Mi idioma nativo es Español (Castellano)
    Siempre en mi vida he intentado aprender y entender Ingles
    Conozco muchísimas palabras, pero no puedo puedo entender y hablar en forma fluida
    Siendo radio amateur, me he comunicado en inglés pero siempre en un nivel muy básico.
    Personalmente, pienso que hay dos modos: Vivir en un país de habla inglesa o tener excelente oído musical. ¡Bueno estoy resignado; dejare esta vida sin hablar y/o entender inglés!

  3. A'Doris

    I speak only one language fluently; English. I am learning French by several different means via t.v and internet.

  4. RALAIARINORO

    Well, I’d eally like to speak with a native speaker (english naive speaker) . How can I upgrade my english; We live in a francophony country.

  5. Rahmana

    I know English and Spanish. I am trying to learn Japanese and Chinese. I just turned 13 and I am afraid that I am getting too old to learn well. Scientests have shown that the younger you are, the easier it is for you to learn languages, or learn anything for that matter.
    What is the max amount of languages for a person to study at one time? I want to speak at least 5 languages by the end of the year.
    And what languages (besides Roman languages) are the easiest for a English native speaker to learn?

  6. hakinoyutaka

    Im reaching 17 years old and had only started to learn Italian this few month . I can speak and write well in chinese,malay and english . (So,im a trillingual! :)) learning languages as much as i can and becoming a translator had always be my dream since im in primary school , but due to the school subjects and examination i had only plenty of time to learn languages and im also afraid that i cant learn well with my age !

  7. Fabia Alves

    Hello hakinoyutaka,

    That’s brilliant. Well done to you! We can learn at any age as long as we put the right effort and dedication into it we will see our progress and improvement in the language we are learning.
    Happy language learning!

    Ciao for now,
    Fabia

  8. hakinoyutaka

    Ciao , Fabia !

    Piacere di conoscerti !
    Grazie per il tuo commento !

    Hope that im not typing wrongly , haha .

  9. Rasyid

    My native language is Indonesian and Palembang language (region language). I can speak English and knowing a little about Arabic and Japanese. I want to learn French and try to comprehend Japanese. I am interested in Chinese , Germany and Dutch too.

  10. Fabia Alves

    Hi Rasyd,

    Great stuff! At the moment we don’t offer Duch course. However you can learn French, Japanese, Chinese and German amongst other languages with busuu.
    Check it out here: http://www.busuu.com

    Ciao for now,
    Fabia

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