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.

Crown Princess Masako
Crown Princess Masako

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.


  1. Diane Kruger – German, English, French, some RussiannnFranka Potente – German, English, French, ItaliannnConnie Nielsen – Danish, Swedish, German, English, French, ItaliannnIngrid Bergman – Swedish, German, English, French, ItaliannnPenelope Cruz – Spanish, English, Italian, FrenchnnMonica Bellucci – Italian, English, French, SpanishnnMilla Jovovich – Russian, English, French, SerbiannnNastassja Kinski – German, English, French, Italian, RussiannnAishwarya Rai – Tulu, English, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Hindi nnVictoria Silvstedt – Swedish, English, French, ItaliannnAudrey Hepburn – English, Dutch/Flemish, Spanish, French, ItaliannnLucy Liu – English, Mandarin, Spanish, Italian, some French and Japanese nnMira Sorvino – English, Mandarin, FrenchnnSigourney Weaver – English, French, German nnJennifer Connelly – English, French, ItaliannnCamilla Belle – English, Portuguese, SpanishnnDaniela Ruah – English, Portuguese, SpanishnnStana Katic – English, Serbo-Croatian, Slovene, French, ItaliannnMariska Hargitay – English, Hungarian, French, ItaliannnSarah Chalke – English, German, FrenchnnnnOnly one foreign language (that I know of), but their accents are great:nnSandra Bullock – English, GermannnGwyneth Paltrow – English, SpanishnnKristin Scott Thomas – English, French (she also dubs her own scenes like Jodie Foster)nnCharlize Theron – Afrikaans, English

    • Thanks Jennie! I am glad to get more names. Who would have thought that so many actresses are polyglots? But it makes sense. Languages make us change our ways of being and our characters and these women are pros at that.

  2. Most Latin women working in USA speak at least two languages. nMost actresses, especially those not from USA speak at least two languages. nMost non-US politicians speak several languages.nnAll the European royalty speak several languages. nQueen Margrethe of Denmark speaks at least Danish, English, French and German, nQueen Silvia of Sweden speaks Portuguese and German, Swedish, English, Spanish and French. nPrincess Alexandra of Denmark speaks English, Chinese, Danish, and as far as I know also German, French, Italian and Spanish, perhaps even more.u00a0 nPrincess Mary speaks at least English, French and Danish. nQueen Rania of Jordan speaks Arabic and English perfectly. nnMarie Curie spoke Polish, French, Russian and GermannHildegard of Bingen spoke at least German and Latin, and she also invented her own language – one of the oldest conlangs we know of.nMother Theresa spoke her mothertongue Albanian, Serbian, Hindi and Bengali.nnBut I have to say that I am not happy about this focus on gender. It shouldn’t matter what I have between my legs, only what I have between my ears.

  3. Hoshi Sato from Star Trek: Enterprise 😀 I know she’s a fictional character and it’s most probable that such linguistic ability is more science fiction than the rest of the show, but it wouldn’t be the first time someone finds inspiration in a fictional character.nnAlso, an example from real life: Katu00f3 Lomb: Hungarian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Danish, English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Ukrainian enough to work as interpreter and translator

  4. You could add Mila Kunis(Ukraine,immigrated to US)Who speaks fluent English and Ukrainian (or Russian,one of the two)
    Tiffany Hwang (Korean-American)English,Korean,conversational Japanese
    Sheetal Sheth (US)English,Hindi,Gujarati,French and Spanish
    Masiela Lusha (Albania;George’s daughter on the George Lopez show) Albanian,English,French and German

  5. Regina Spektor (singer-songwriter born in Russia to Jewish immigrants): Fluent in Russian and English. According to Wikipedia, she can read Hebrew. She also sings occasionally with French, German, Latin, and Spanish words.

  6. Stana Katic(Canadian born to yugoslavian imigrants) She speaks: 5 languages: English, Italian, French, Serbo-Croatian, and Bosnian. Actress.

  7. You could also add me (just that I’m not famous) I speak: danish, swediah, norwegian, mandarin chinese, french and english

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