Famous EFL Learners

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There aren’t many things worse than facing a classroom full of students who clearly would rather not be there. Students playing on their phones under the table, doodling in their notebooks, writing notes to each other or dozing off, can all be very distracting for teachers who are trying their best to create an interesting and engaging lesson.

One thing you can do to try and increase the motivation levels in your students is to show them other learners like themselves who have gone through the same process. Don’t forget that learning English (or any language) isn’t easy and it’s not difficult to get demotivated. Finding out about other people who have successfully become fluent in English can be a great motivator – especially when those people are famous!

Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Terminator (or the Governator, depending which era you know him from) is originally from Austria. He moved to the United States when he was 21 and hardly spoke English. He learnt English while he was training to be a bodybuilder by taking lessons and working in a fitness store to force himself to speak English. This no doubt helped him break into the acting world. Even though (or maybe because) he still has a considerable accent, he is possibly the most well-known English language learner.

Penelope Cruz

Cruz is an internationally famous actress. Born in Spain, Cruz learnt English when she was a young teenager but, she admits herself, not very successfully. She moved to the United States when she was 20 and this was when she became fluent in English, by memorising her film scripts. In 2009 she became the first Spanish-speaking actress to win an Oscar, for her English-speaking role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Sofia Vergara

Another famous Spanish-speaking actress, Vergara was born in Colombia. She learnt English while at private school. She is now most famous for her role as Gloria on Modern Family.

Heidi Klum

Klum is a German supermodel who has made a name for herself not only in Europe but in the United States as well. Though she may not model so much anymore she is known as the host of the popular Project Runway reality TV series and one of the judges on America’s Got Talent. Klum only learnt English when she moved to the United States.

Diane Kruger

Kruger is another German celebrity who has made a name for herself internationally. She speaks German as her first language, but can also speak French and English fluently.

Mila Kunis

Famous as an actress and Ashton Kutcher’s wife, many people don’t realise that Kunis does not speak English as her first language. Born in Ukraine, Kunis grew up speaking Russian and only learnt English when her parents moved to the States.

Jackie Chan

Chan is an actor famous for performing all his own stunts and for his incredible martial arts skills. He was born in China and his first few movies had to be dubbed into English. As he became more famous, he taught himself English by listening to song lyrics.

These are only a few celebrities who have successfully learnt English, so the next time your learners are feeling a little bit deflated, let them consider how far these English language learners have come.

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