When you’re struggling to learn a second language, polyglots can be both awe-inspiring and discouraging. It seems almost impossible that someone could possibly fit so many languages into their head when you’re having a hard time learning just one. However, polyglots are not all that different from anyone else. They’ve just decided to invest a huge amount of time in learning.
If all polyglots have one thing in common, it’s that they love language. That may seem obvious, but it shouldn’t be understated. And fortunately, many of them enjoy sharing their knowledge with others. Learning the study methods of people who are fluent in several languages can be a great help, even if you’re only learning one language. Here are some of the most popular North American polyglots on the internet, all of whom have useful language-learning insights to offer.
Steve Kaufmann — Lingosteve
Steve Kaufmann is an old hand at the language game, with over 50 years of language-learning experience. When he graduated high school in Canada with 10 years of French education, he was still pretty stuck as a monolingual English speaker. After that, he started racking up languages, and is now working on his 17th. He often faults “traditional methods” of language learning for why it took him until after schooling to learn successfully. To share his wisdom, he has developed his own learning method and created a community around it.
Perhaps one of the most appealing things about Kaufmann is that he talks in a pretty down-to-earth way in his YouTube videos. He doesn’t come across as a know-it-all, which helps make language learning seem all the more possible. Kaufmann has a number of videos with general advice, like the one above, and also has posts tailored to specific languages. No matter what you’re studying, there’s plenty to explore.
Azren — Azren the Language Nerd
As far as polyglots go, Azren is somewhat novice, with only about four languages under his belt (he’s currently working on Mandarin, his fifth). Still, in the few years he’s been active, he has created an impressive amount of content helping people learn English, French and Spanish, as well as tracking his own progress.
Azren posts to his YouTube Channel, as well as Medium, Facebook and his own website. His excitement for language is infectious, and he creates a lot of interactive content to engage his audience. Following him is like meeting with a learning partner without having to leave your home.
Ambie Gonzalez — Ambie Gonzalez TV
If you want a polyglot who doubles as a travel vlogger, Ambie Gonzalez is a great option. She makes videos in Spanish, Portuguese, English and Korean, and she travels all around the world. Gonzalez is the polyglot who comes across as a typical YouTuber; her YouTube channel mixes language advice in with things like the “Mexican Candy Challenge” and videos of her singing along to music.
Gonzalez has a number of videos that feature helpful tips and tricks to learn languages. Her YouTube channel is also great because she tells entertaining stories in various languages. This way, you can practice listening to a language with a lot of guidance, and in a way that holds your attention.
Paul Jorgensen — Langfocus
Paul Jorgensen is truly a student of language. When asked how many languages he speaks in a Q&A a year ago, he chose to list just the languages he’d invested a significant amount of time in: Biblical Hebrew, Modern Hebrew, Biblical Aramaic, Old English, Arabic, Japanese, Indonesian, French, Tagalog, Esperanto and Italian. That list in itself is pretty long, but after watching his videos, you’d be hard-pressed to find a language he hasn’t spent at least a little time studying.
Jorgensen is professorial in his videos, and you can imagine him teaching at the front of the classroom. He not only provides tips for learning, but also makes a lot of videos about the history of different languages. Even if you’re not learning a language, his videos are super informative and fascinating.
Moses McCormick — laoshu50500
Moses McCormick is a very social polyglot. There are plenty of videos of him sitting in front of a camera and talking about language, but what he’s best known for is going out on the town to practice. His videos may be a bit long, with many going past 90 minutes, but seeing someone switch between languages so easily is pretty amazing.
McCormick speaks 20 languages on a basic conversational level, so his method isn’t the best for people who want fluency. His goal isn’t fluency — it’s connecting with people, and he succeeds very well in that. When you speak a minority language, finding other speakers is a joy. You can see evidence of that in the way people’s faces light up when McCormick starts talking to them in their native tongue.
Matt and Abigail — Polyglot Progress
Alright, Matt and Abigail aren’t polyglots yet, but they’re working on it. About two years ago, they decided to start their journeys to become polyglots, with Matt currently learning Spanish, Hungarian and Norwegian, and Abigail currently learning German, Spanish, Bulgarian and Japanese. This may sound like quite a daunting task for two fairly young people, but hey, you’ve gotta start somewhere.
Both Matt and Abigail post videos about resources, their experiences and their travels. The two also encourage people to join in on the learning and post their own videos. If you’re starting your own language journey, it can be fun and informative to follow along in their adventures.
Timothy Doner — Polyglot Pal
Timothy Doner was a huge name in polyglot news a few years ago because he could speak 20 languages at the young age of 17. In just four years, this boy from New York learned 19 languages on top of his native English, including French, Xhosa and Ojibwe. Since his time in the limelight began, he’s done a TED Talk about how he got hooked on learning languages, and he led a Teen Polyglot Challenge where he challenged teenagers to learn a language in a month and then post a video of the results.
Doner now goes to Harvard University and has done less stuff in the media recently, but he still posts to his public Facebook page with fun language facts. If anything, it’s worth it to watch him speak because of the enthusiasm he infuses into the act of language learning.
Idahosa Ness — MimicMethod
Idahosa Ness speaks five languages in addition to English — Spanish, French, Portuguese, German and Mandarin Chinese — but what really sets him apart is that he also raps them. It’s part of his own way of learning a language, which he calls the Mimic Method. His videos have a strong focus on pronunciation and attaining a native accent, which makes him different from a lot of the other polyglots.
Ness’s most popular videos are of course when he raps in other languages, because that’s the most fun, but he also breaks down how to pronounce certain difficult sounds in other languages. He turns what can be a very difficult task into really fun exercises through song.