As I am thinking of ways to promote women and girls learning foreign languages and showing their linguistic prowess, I compiled a list of famous and powerful women who are multilingual.
Some of them use their languages for their jobs and to promote their work. Shakira sings in both English and Spanish. Nelly Furtado sings in English, Spanish and Portuguese. The former diplomats, Madeleine Albright, Condoleeza Rice and Japanese Crown Princess Masako all used their foreign languages for their work representing their countries. (Incidentally, the all seem to know Russian.) Jodie Foster dubs her own movie roles in French because she speaks it with a perfect accent.
Please post a comment if you know of other women in the limelight who use their foreign languages. I want to show that foreign language knowledge can further one’s career and help them reach a wider audience!
Madeleine Albright (US): English, French, Czech, Russian. Understand Polish and Serbo-Croatian. Former US Secretary of State.
Christiane Amanpour (Iran, UK, US) – English, Farsi (Persian) and French. ABC and CNN journalist.
Jodie Foster (US)– English and French, German and Italian. Actress.
Crown Princess Masako (Japan) Japanese, English and French. Is said to be of conversational standard in German, Russian and Spanish. Former diplomat, Crown Princess of Japan.
Angela Merkel (Germany): German, English and Russian. German Chancellor.
Condoleeza Rice (US) English, French and Russian. Former US Secretary of State. Soviet affairs specialist.
Shakira (Colombia): Spanish, Portuguese and English. (I’ve read that she might also speak Arabic because her Dad is Lebanese. I also read that she speaks Italian.) Singer.
According to Early Advantage, the famous women mentioned below are polyglots too. I’m not certain about the validity of the information on the site.
Maya Angelou (US)– French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, and Fanti. Poet.
Nelly Furtado (Canadian, born to Portuguese immigrants) English, Portuguese, Hindi (?), Spanish (?). Singer.
Salma Hayek (Mexico): Spanish, Portuguese (?), Arabic (?) and English.
Natalie Portman (US, Israel)– Hebrew, some French, German, Japanese and Spanish. Actress.
Do you know of more women who speak various languages? Comment below.