You know what’s cooler than being bilingual? Being octolingual. Or decalingual. Or even viginti lingual (that’s 20 languages, in case you lost count). Shoot for the stars here, kids. Becoming a polyglot is well within any person’s reach, and with the right planning and amount of hard work, it can happen a lot easier than you might think.
We all know that learning a foreign language abroad has become all the rage, but what if you take it to the next level by learning more than one language? You mean it’s possible to jump from being a lonely one language speaker to being trilingual? Mind blowing stuff here, we know. If you’re looking to really step up your game and learn multiple languages, head to one of these best countries for aspiring polyglots. You’ll be tri to quadrilingual before your friends back home can tell the difference between ser and estar.
So, you’re fluent in English and French, but German and Italian have now caught your fancy. Learning multiple languages in Switzerland is your solution. With four official languages, and people and landscapes just as diverse as its dialects, this tiny country in the center of Europe is a polyglot’s haven. Plus, the fondue. Need we say more?
The most popular city to become a polyglot in Switzerland is definitely Zurich, the nation’s largest city. As one of the world’s biggest financial centers, saying Zurich is an international city is an understatement. This region of Switzerland is primarily German-speaking, so German language programs are the most common in Zurich. This doesn’t mean that you’ll be stuck with just learning German though! About seven percent of the city’s population speaks Italian and five percent speak French, and these numbers have been rapidly growing in recent years.
The French-speaking city of Geneva is another highly sought-out region for language learners that have an interest in becoming a polyglot. Its French roots are so embedded that many people actually commute to and from France for work (and you thought it was a big deal commuting to NYC from New Jersey). Despite this, its high percentages of German, Italian, and even Spanish-speakers due to an immigration increase in the 1960s have made Geneva a very diverse city. Not to mention, it is known as a “peace capital.”
Lugano, a small lakeside town fondly known as the Swiss Riviera, is located on the Swiss-Italian border and is a hotbed for languages. With only a population of about 71,000 people, about 80 percent of its population speaks Italian and the remaining split between German, and surprisingly, Serbo-Croatian. Surrounded by Lake Lugano and miles of rolling green hills, aspiring polyglots are drawn to this region for its exploration, both in the language classroom and in the mountains.
Not only will you potentially learn multiple languages (is there a cooler thing?), but you will also become immersed in a culture famous for its diplomacy and high quality of life. Switzerland’s neutrality in dire situations has earned it many friends, and its cities have a real melting pot feel to them. This type of environment is perfect for language learners, as you will be exposed to anything and everything while surrounded by natural beauty and a great lifestyle. For top intensive language programs in Switzerland that will allow you to become a polyglot in no time, check out International Programs for French, German, and Italian or LanguagesAbroad for German.
Do you feel like every other kid having been forced to study French in high school? Do you want to reignite your language-learning fire and differentiate yourself at the same time with an exciting experience? Learn how to become a polyglot in Morocco, home of two official language, Arabic and Berber, as well as large populations of French, Spanish, and English speakers. Oui, si! Becoming a polyglot has never been easier.
Only the fourth largest city in Morocco, the capital Rabat offers the greatest number of intensive language programs in the country. With huge percentages of its people speaking both Arabic and French, you will have a lot of opportunities to majorly amp up your language skills. In between language classes, don’t forget to check out Rabat’s beaches, with amazing views of the Atlantic, walk the trails of real-life pirates, or even take a quick ferry to neighboring Spain!
Another option for French and Arabic obsessors who want to learn multiple languages in Morocco is Meknes, which is a bit more inland than Rabat and considerably less touristy. Its heavily local feel offers a more peaceful and immersive environment than other Moroccan cities, and it is very easy for foreigners to practice their Arabic and French. On top of that, Meknes is also known as being one of the most affordable cities in Morocco, so your pockets can breathe a little. Why pay triple to learn French in Paris when you can pay less to learn multiple languages in Morocco?
Morocco is one of the safer regions of North Africa, that coupled with its deep history and islamic culture make it an ideal place to learn multiple languages somewhere more off-the-beaten-path. The recent tourism boom has helped maintain Morocco’s international feel, and its proximity to mainland Europe makes it a popular option for international students and travelers alike. Plus, who can say no to riding camels on weekends and sand dune surfing between classes? For top intensive language programs in Morocco, consider Language Vacation, Lankey, or Projects Abroad (which even offers Tamazight classes!).
For those up for the real challenge of becoming a polyglot, consider heading to a country that has several official languages plus individual official languages of each state within the country. Sounds crazy, but pretty normal for India. Hindi and English are both official languages of India, and each state in the country has its own official language, most of which are very different from Hindi. This means that the majority of educated Indians are at least trilingual, and those who move between states for work or school probably have working knowledge of many more languages. Impressive? Just remember: your dreams of becoming polyglot could easily come true if you decide to study multiple languages in India!
India’s largest city, Mumbai, is home to over 18 million people. This many people in one area means one thing: a huge polyglot population. There are 16 major languages of India that are spoken in Mumbai, plus Bambaiya, a colloquial form of Hindi (but really a blend of about six different languages), which is spoken on the streets. Throughout history, Mumbai has played a major role in colonization and trading, and the impact of this rich history (literally) can be seen today, as Mumbai has the highest number of billionaires in India. Fancy. It pays to be a polyglot.
As we explored with Mumbai, cities in India are massive. With about 25 million inhabitants in the greater region, New Delhi is another very popular region for hopeful polyglots who want to learn multiple languages. India’s capital city is the home of primarily Hindi speakers, but there is also a large population of Punjabi, Urdu, and Bengali speakers. The city itself has three official languages, making it an excellent choice for those looking to become really immersed— and really quickly! Be sure to enjoy New Delhi’s mountainous surroundings, including Mount Everest in neighboring Nepal, and its proximity to many grand palaces and ruins, such as the famous Taj Mahal!
Why wouldn’t you learn multiple languages in India? This is a prime location for anyone who is looking to experience something new every day and learn a new language anytime you turn a corner, potentially. While many people are afraid of venturing to a place like India, the only thing you should be afraid of is learning too much. Really though, do we need to repeat all of the languages? For top intensive language programs in India, check out Knowledge Must or Travellers Worldwide.
4. SOUTH AFRICA
If you thought India had a lot to offer hopeful polyglots, better strap in. While big countries have millions of people spread out among thousands of miles of land, small countries like South Africa come out of basically nowhere with 11 official languages. Yeah, you heard us right. How does having 11 official languages even happen? The majority of South Africans are trilingual, and between English, the language of their homeland, and whichever language is the most popular of their region, most people can switch between multiple languages like nobody’s business. Talk about polyglots.
The go-to for most foreigners in South Africa is Cape Town, one of the most popular cities in the country. A large coastal city basically at the end of the continent, this city of about three million inhabitants is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. Reflecting its history as one of the most important destinations for immigrants and expats to South Africa, there are multiple languages spoken everywhere. Its population is split pretty much evenly between Afrikaans, Xhosa, and English speakers, and with its history of apartheid preserved in many areas of the city, international students will learn a lot more than what they bargained for.
If you’re looking for a less touristy region to learn multiple languages, Port Elizabeth is your choice. Known as the “Friendly City”, this region truly lives up to its name, making it the perfect place to pick up some local dialects. Port Elizabeth was founded as recently as 1820, just to house British settlers in the hopes of strengthening its border region, so right from the beginning, all this region has known is foreigners. Today, Port Elizabeth has very large populations of Afrikaans, English, and IsiXhosa speakers – along with nine other languages – so in between surfing you should have no problem practicing your vocab and becoming a polyglot.
Why South Africa?
Because you’ll finally be able to understand the Zulu lyrics to The Circle of Life. This is everyone’s life goal, is it not? Beyond this, South Africa is home to a huge amount of social and natural diversity, and periods of both extreme darkness and success throughout its history. Not to mention, you can always take some time to brush up on your penguin or seal dialects, as both groups migrate to the shores of South Africa every year and make for great new friends in very unique places! For the best intensive language programs in South Africa, check out International Programs or Travellers Worldwide.
Seriously, being able to speak multiple languages is the coolest thing. Not only is it super impressive to future employers, school admission counselors, and potential sig-os, it also makes your life a whole lot easier and opens your world up to tons of new opportunities and people. Plus, if the process of becoming a polyglot includes eating fresh seafood on the beach with locals, skiing down larger-than-life mountains with classmates from other countries, and enjoying drinks with new neighbors constantly switching between languages, is there anything better? Now you know how to become a polyglot in some of the best countries around the globe, so start searching for language programs!