15 Celebrities Who Had to Learn English as a Second Language


English might be your first language, but it’s not everyone’s. And no matter how you slice it, a great deal of the celebrities we have here in the US are not from the US. Many of them don’t even consider English their first language. While some celebrities are obviously not from the US, some celebrities real nationality comes as a surprise to many. For example, some of the celebs on this list learned English when they moved here from other countries. Read on to find out which of your favorite celebrities learned English as a second language instead of a first.

(Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)


Penelope Cruz

She has a beautiful accent that’s clearly Spanish. Spanish was her first language and English is something she learned later in her childhood. She was born and raised in Madrid, Spain, making her a natural Spanish speaking actress. Her accent is not too heavy, but it’s not exactly light either. She has a lovely mixture of Spanish when she speaks English, but she can do an American accent and speak English fluently when she has to. She spends much of her time in between her native Spain and the states, which allows her to use both languages regularly.

(Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)


Marion Cotillard

She’s a French actress with a wonderful career behind her and still ahead of her. She was born and raised in Paris, France, one of the most romantic cities in the world. She has a romantic accent and a beautiful voice because French is her native language. She learned English early on, which is beneficial to her career in Hollywood. She can do an American accent so well you almost wouldn’t even know she’s from France. Her voice is lovely and sounds delicate no matter which language she chooses to speak on any given day.

(Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

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Benicio del Toro

He was born in Puerto Rico and speaks Spanish as a first language. He was raised most of his childhood in Puerto Rico, but he learned to speak English when he was only 12-years-old. He was able to learn because he and his brother accompanied their father from Puerto Rico to Pennsylvania at that age to live there. He learned very quickly to speak English after that, but he still has a slight Puerto Rican accent if you listen closely. It’s helped his career to be bilingual since he often plays roles that require that particular skill.

(Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)


Jackie Chan

People love Jackie Chan. He stars in a number of action comedy films that make everyone laugh, and he’s one of the funniest actors around. Jackie Chan’s first language is not English. He was born and raised in China. Chinese is his first language and he was a movie star in China long before he ever made it to America to become a famous actor. His natural language is Chinese and his accent is somewhat noticeable, but he does speak English well enough. It’s not his first language, but like everyone else on the list, he’s good at it.

(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)


Andy Garcia

Believe it or not, Andy Garcia is not a native English speaking person. He was born and raised for a while in Havana, Cuba and his native language is actually Spanish. His mother, however, is an English teacher. She taught him to speak English when he was just a child. He didn’t move to Florida from Cuba until he was 5-years-old, but he was already a fluent English speaker at that age thanks to his mother’s diligence in teaching him the language. Today you’d never even know he isn’t a native English speaking citizen.

(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)



Much like everyone’s favorite Modern Family actress, Sofia Vergara, Shakira is from Columbia. She was born and raised there, and she speaks Spanish first and foremost. However, she’s not only bilingual because she also speaks English well, she also knows several other languages fluently. She’s fluent in both Portuguese and Arabic as well. Though you hear her speaking Spanish on occasion in interviews an even in some of her songs, she’s capable of speaking four different languages with ease. It’s a talent not too many people have, but it’s one that’s very admirable. It’s difficult to learn a new language.

(Photo by Dominique Charriau/Getty Images for Sephora)


Antonio Banderas

He’s the husband of Melanie Griffith, who recently announced that the couple is separated. He’s been an American actor for as long as many of us can remember. His accent is not too heavy, but it is obvious that English is not his first language if you consider his accent first and foremost. The handsome actor was born and raised in Spain. Spanish is his first language, but that doesn’t mean he’s not excellent at speaking English. He’s portrayed a number of characters in his many films, and some have spoken English and some Spanish.

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles)


Sofia Vergara

She’s the young trophy wife on the hit comedy Modern Family, and everyone knows her for her very heavy accent. Sofia Vergara is from Columbia. She was born and raised there and Spanish is her very first language. She went to a private school where she learned to speak English. While it’s not perfect English and it’s sometimes difficult to understand her with her heavy accent, she’s taken to the language easily and knows her way around the English language. Her accent makes it more fun to listen to her, and she uses it in her show as well.

(Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)


Ricky Martin

Ricky Martin actually speaks Spanish first and English second. The famous Latin pop star grew up in Puerto Rico. He didn’t move to the United States to pursue his singing career until much later in life, but he did eventually learn to speak English as a second language. For the most part, however, he grew up speaking Spanish without knowing a word of English. While it’s obvious today he’s not from this country, it’s not obvious that English was a second language to him. His career requires him to sing in both Spanish and English at times.

(Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)


Enrique Iglesias

He’s everyone’s favorite Latin singer, but he was not born and raised in the United States. In fact, he was born and raised in Madrid, Spain. His first language is Spanish. He didn’t move to the United States until he was 9-years-old to live with his dad, Julia Iglesias. While his first language is Spanish and he didn’t move to this country until later in his childhood, his parents did teach him English at a young age. He did not learn the language when he moved to Florida to be with his father. He learned to speak it long before that.

(Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Atlantico Rum)


Milla Jovovich

She’s one of the most famous models around, and she was not born here in the US. Considering she’s a model, however, that’s probably not really a big surprise. Most of this country’s most famous models are from other places around the world, and Jovovich is not different. She’s from the Ukraine, the same place as Mila Kunis. She speaks Russian as a first language. She did not learn to speak English until her family moved from London from California when she was just 5-years-old. She’s now fluent in English, but it was not always the case.

(Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

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Kat Von D

She’s a tattoo artist that grew up not in the United States, but elsewhere. She was born and raised in a small area of Mexico learning Spanish as her first language. She didn’t learn to speak English right away, either, as she grew up in Los Angeles in a house that was primarily Spanish speaking. Her English is impressive now, and you’d never be able to tell she wasn’t born and raised right here in the United States thanks to her perfect English and lack of accent.

(Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images For Sephora)


Mila Kunis

She might be one of the biggest celebrities in the world, but she did not always live in the US. In fact, she was born in the Ukraine and she speaks fluent Russian. She learned English when she moved to the states with her family in 1991. She speaks both English and Russian fluently, but despite her lack of accent and her ease with the English language, it is not her first language. She’s currently engaged to be married to Ashton Kutcher, her co-star from That 70s Show, and she’s currently expecting their first child together.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)


Arnold Schwarznegger

He has an accent and it’s not always easy to understand what the former Governator has to say. That’s because he was born and raised in Austria. It might shock you to learn that English is not his first language. Of course, it might not shock you to learn that English is not his first language given the fact that it’s sometimes difficult to understand anything he has to say. He moved to the states when he was 21, speaking very little English and learning as he attempted to become a bodybuilder, at which he succeeded nicely.

(Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)


Diane Kruger

You know her from television and movies, as well as her long relationship with everyone’s favorite character from Dawson’s Creek, Joshua Jackson. However, what you probably didn’t know about Diane Kruger is the fact that she was not born in the United States. Kruger was actually born and raised in Germany. German is her first language, but she’s also fluent in French and English. She’s also done an amazing job at not using her native German accent when she speaks. If you didn’t know she was German, you wouldn’t know she was German, if you get what I’m trying to say here.

(Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

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