Ever wanted to be a multilingual billionaire?
In fact, do polyglot billionaires even exist—and does speaking multiple languages help you make a fortune?
There are 3,228 billionaires alive on the planet right now. Do any of them care about language learning? Perhaps we could tell that by discovering the languages they teach their kids?
Let's check out the languages billionaires learn with 16 of the biggest billionaires on earth.
1: Bernard Arnault & Family
If you're into Parisian chic, you've probably heard of the Arnault family. Think champagne, luxury watches, expensive perfumes, out-of-this-world bags… you get the picture.
Bernard Arnault's the chairman of LVMH Moёt Hennessy and Louis Vuitton, and today his family is worth a cool USD 150 billion. Wow!
These guys are the wealthiest family in Europe and own the holding company of 75 luxury brands, including Christian Dior, Givenchy, Dom Pérignon and a whole lot more.
I'm pretty sure the Arnault family cares quite a lot about languages. Bernard's son, Frédéric (CEO of TAG Heuer), speaks four: French, German, Italian and English. Frédéric is one smart cookie.
At only 26 years old, he holds conversations in multiple languages, has a bunch of fancy degrees and plays the piano like a concert pianist.
2: Richard Branson
Speaking of billionaires, British magnate Sir Richard Branson is probably one of the first that springs to mind, especially if you've a hankering to go into space.
The founder of the Virgin Group, with a net worth of USD 5.7 billion, is well known for being into travel, adventure and the ‘final frontier.'
But does Sir Richard speak any languages other than English? No, he doesn't.
Richard famously once said he believed that time spent on languages in school would be better spent on practical subjects like computer coding. So you'd hardly expect him to be a polyglot.
But he also once said that if you want to hone your language skills, choose a widely-used one like Spanish. It also happens to be one of the easiest languages to learn, for native speakers of English at least.
3: Aliko Dangote
The Chairman and CEO of Dangote Group, Nigerian businessman Aliko Dangote built his massive business empire on commodities like cement, oil and sugar.
His $13.6 billion USD net worth makes him the richest man in Africa.
Aliko's native language is Hausa, but he also speaks English extremely well. He went to university in Cairo, too, so I'm pretty sure he's got a bit of Arabic under his belt as well.
4: Tatyana Vladimirovna Bakalchuk
Once upon a time, Tatyana Bakalchuk lived a humble life in Russia teaching English (there's a language clue right there.)
But everything changed when she started the wildly successful Wildberries online clothing store. Now she's worth around USD 13.3 billion and is counted as Russia's first-ever self-made woman billionaire.
Tatyana's no slouch in the language department, either. She speaks Russian, Korean, English and German.
Why such an eclectic mix? Well, her family is Russian-Korean, and in Wildberries' early days, she worked with so many German suppliers that she decided to learn their language.
Tatyana's story perfectly shows how learning new languages can create new opportunities. You never know what might come from language learning.
5: Jack Ma
The wealthiest man in China and founder of the Alibaba Group, Jack Ma, has a net worth of USD 40.5+ billion.
As a child, he only spoke Chinese, but I'm pretty sure he wanted to learn more. Because at just 12 years old, this enterprising young man rode his bike 17 miles to a hotel that catered to English-speaking tourists and offered free city tours.
Why? Each tour helped him hone his English skills. He kept the schedule going for nine years and even became pen pals with one of those foreigners—who gave him his nickname, Jack.
Later in life, Jack studied to be an English lecturer, which makes him the second English teacher on our list to hit billionaire status. Perhaps there's hope for me yet.
6. Bill Gates
The co-founder of Microsoft has a net worth of USD 124 billion and famously says that his biggest regret in life is that he can't speak any foreign languages.
Perhaps Bill would like to sign up for my StoryLearning Kit (it's completely free) to learn how to learn a new language through stories.
Maybe he'd even like to take one of my courses and realise that dream of learning French, Arabic or Chinese? (Yes, Bill, you can study them all at StoryLearning.)
7. Mark Zuckerberg
This particular billionaire is super smart (his IQ is 152) and is worth around USD 97 billion. You probably already know Zuckerberg as the founder of Facebook and CEO of Meta, but did you know he's reasonably fluent in Mandarin?
It's said that he's very committed to learning the language properly and practises every day, which we all know is the best way to improve.
8. Stefano Pessina
Stephano Pessina is an Italian billionaire. He lives in Monaco, so I wasn't surprised to learn he's fluent in French.
Pessina is the Executive Chairman of the Walgreens-Boots Alliance and is worth a respectable USD 10.3 billion.
So, he speaks Italian and French, but can you guess his third language? Here are a couple of hints:
- He used to be a nuclear engineer.
- He heads the world's largest drugstore chain.
- It's rumoured he has ambitions to crack China.
Sorry, that last one was a red herring. Pessina's third language isn't Mandarin—it's English!
9. Jeff Bezos
No list of the world's billionaires would be complete if it didn't include the founder of Amazon. Reports say that this son of a Cuban immigrant is worth USD 117 billion.
Strangely, Jeff himself doesn't speak much Spanish, although he wishes he knew more. In fact, he thinks foreign languages are so crucial that he and his wife are adamant that their four children will grow up speaking more than one language.
Wondering about their language of choice? Keep reading!
10. Elon Musk
In September 2021, Elon Musk's fortune passed USD 200 billion, making him the richest person on earth.
But does the founder of Tesla, Space-X, Neuralink and The Boring Company speak more than one language?
Musk is South African by birth, so he grew up understanding (if not speaking much) Afrikaans. However, English is his first—and pretty much only—language, and he doesn't seem to have plans to learn any more.
Why? Well, he's busy inventing a robot to do it for him. Apparently, Tesla Bots will soon be doing all our mundane jobs—language translation included.
11. David Vélez
Nubank is the largest banking group in Brazil, so perhaps you won't be surprised to see Vélez included on the list. As Nubank's CEO and co-founder, he's currently worth around 5.2 billion USD.
David Vélez may be based in Brazil now, but he didn't grow up in a Portuguese-speaking country. In fact, he comes from Colombia, where, of course, they speak Spanish.
You'll always meet and do business with foreigners when you own a banking empire, but that wouldn't faze this billionaire. In addition to Spanish and Portuguese, he attended a German prep school, so of course, you can add German to the list.
Finally, Vélez also speaks English, which gives him an impressive four languages in his portfolio.
12. Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg, CEO of Bloomberg LP, is worth a staggering USD 59 billion.
The former mayor of New York City speaks English, obviously, but he's also picked up a fair degree of Spanish. That was undoubtedly very handy in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy slammed New York.
As the superstorm raged, Bloomberg reached out to the severely affected Hispanic community in their own language, which I'm sure they appreciated, even if his Spanish accent could have used a little work.
13. Naguib Sawiris
Naguib is the big brother in the Sawiris family, an Arab dynasty whose money comes not from oil but from construction.
Currently worth #3.1 billion USD, he also owns a luxurious retreat in Grenada. But can Sawiris speak more than one language?
He certainly can!
In fact, Naguib Sawiris almost goes to the head of the class, speaking Arabic, English, German, French and Coptic.
14. Jan Koum
Have you ever used WhatsApp? If so, you can thank its co-founder, Jan Koum.
This Ukrainian billionaire, worth around USD 10.8 billion after his 2014 deal with Facebook, has a rags-to-riches success story.
Born into a Jewish immigrant family, he now uses three languages to help run his mighty empire—Ukrainian, Russian and English.
15. Qod Nisanov
Another interesting story about languages billionaires learn comes from Qod Nisanov, a Russian property developer with a net worth of around #4.7 billion USD.
Qod comes from a Jewish settlement in Azerbaijan but now lives in Russia, where he builds gigantic shopping malls, museums, and goodness knows what else.
And in Nisanov, we've found our true language-speaking champion. He speaks an impressive six languages, including Russian, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Farsi and Juhuri, a traditional Jewish language from the Eastern Caucasus mountains.
16. Patrick Soon-Shiong
Interested in bioscience and transplant surgery? If so, you may have heard of this South African-Chinese American, currently worth around USD 11.5 billion.
Patrick grew up in South Africa but now lives in the US. As well as being a bioscientist and a transplant surgeon, I'm guessing he's into newspapers since he owns the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Patrick grew up speaking Hakka Chinese and English with a smattering of Xhosa and Afrikaans. However, he probably doesn't use those last two much in America.
Languages Billionaires Learn: Billionaire Kids
Perhaps even more interesting than the languages billionaires learn is peeking into the languages they teach their kids.
After all, that's one sure sign of what they consider essential in the future.
Jeff Bezos's four children, Ivanka Trump's daughter, Mark Zuckerberg's daughter and even the UK's Prince George are all learning one language their parents obviously think will be crucial in the coming years.
It is, of course, Mandarin Chinese. One of the hardest languages to learn no less.
Food for thought? Perhaps. But you may have other language goals in mind.