For many years it’s been widely assumed that people who are bilingual or multilingual are smarter than those who only speak one language. As the co-founder of Microsoft, there’s no doubt about Bill Gates’ intellect. But can the billionaire philanthropist speak Spanish?
No, Bill Gates cannot speak Spanish or any other foreign languages for that matter. Bill can only fluently speak English, which means he is monolingual. In his third ‘Ask me Anything’ session on Reddit, Bill said: “I feel pretty stupid that I don’t know any foreign languages”.
In terms of computer programming languages, Bill is quite-rightly seen as a master. Using BASIC, he’s even written programming languages of his own! But this is unlikely to be helpful when traveling to foreign countries. If being monolingual makes Bill feel stupid, then what’s preventing him from learning a new language? As a multi-billionaire, he certainly has the money for a tutor.
If you’re keen to find out whether Bill Gates has plans to learn Spanish, and what his opinions of Spain are, then stay tuned!
As of 2019, Microsoft is valued at $1 trillion. Fortunately, it’s clear that Bill Gates’ lack of foreign language skills hasn’t hindered his career. But he did have a little bit of help.
Most people are required to learn new languages as part of their formal education, and this is true for Gates. During his time at Lakeside, a private all-boys school in Seattle, Bill picked up both Latin and Greek. “I took Latin and Greek in High School and got A’s and I guess it helps my vocabulary”, he wrote on Reddit.
Gates didn’t perceive Latin and Greek as particularly valuable, however, so he didn’t carry his studies into adult life. Instead, Gates wishes he’d learned French, Arabic, or Chinese. With 1.1 billion speakers, Chinese Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world. On this subject, Gates said:
“I wish I knew French or Arabic or Chinese. I keep hoping to get the time to study one of these – probably French because it’s the easiest. I did Duolingo for awhile but didn’t keep it up.”
Microsoft has had a strong presence in China since 1992, so Mandarin definitely would’ve served Gates during his time as CEO.
That being said Bill has attempted to connect with his Mandarin-speaking audience. In a video from 2017, Gates can be seen saying “Nǐ hǎo, huānyíng lái wǒ de Wéixìn gōngzhònghào” which translates to “Hello, welcome to my WeChat account”. Despite his obvious amateurism, native speakers were impressed with his cadence. “His tones are not bad and his overall intonation is quite good”, writes one critic.
Bill Gates may not be a native Spanish-speaker, but he has been overt about his adoration for the country.
Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill dedicates a large proportion of time to philanthropy. He even cited it as one of the main reasons he stepped down as Microsoft CEO in 2000.
As part of this, Bill has been particularly vocal about his views on world health, vaccinations, poverty, and access to education. In this sphere, he believes that other countries should follow Spain as an example.
In a series of articles from 2012 on the Foundation website, Bill writes: “Spain has been one of the world’s most generous countries to the worlds poor” and “Spain’s investments, particularly in global health and agriculture, have helped save lives and give people a way out of extreme poverty.”
Over the year Spain has contributed €41 million to the GAVI alliance, supported the immunization of 326 million children, and funded research on Tuberculosis, AIDS, and malaria. So Spain’s governance seems to align closely with Bill’s politics and personal beliefs.
Ultimately, this close alliance has been a saving grace for Spain. When the Spanish economy fell in 2013, Gates invested $113.5 million in FFC, a Barcelona-based property investment company. This provided a major boost to the economy and prevented Spain from falling into a recession.