Bilingual, Trilingual and Polyglot – what’s the difference?

billingual trillingual 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.

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.

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?


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

  4. 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.

    • Hello, that’s not my real name by the way, just keep on studying the way you are and work on spelling + grammar. (;

  5. 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. 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 !

    • 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,

  7. Ciao , Fabia !

    Piacere di conoscerti !
    Grazie per il tuo commento !

    Hope that im not typing wrongly , haha .

  8. 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.

    • 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:

      Ciao for now,

    • Hi Osman,
      Start improving your language skills with our community of native speakers!
      You will see the busuutalk when you hover the mouse over your leaderboard friends or by going to the tab friends and if they are online you will be able to do the busuutalk.

      We hope this information helps any other questions you may have please send an email to and our colleagues will be happy to help.

      Thank you!


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