Ellen DeGeneres, well-known as being the host of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, has had many guests from different backgrounds on her show. Some guests even come on with little to no English, like the Korean band BTS. This has made people wonder if Ellen can speak another language.
Despite knowing many multi-linguists, Ellen only speaks English. As Ellen grew up in America with American parents, she did not have a lot of exposure to other languages. She says she always wanted to learn Spanish since it is the second most spoken language in America but has still never learned.
Continue reading to find out more about Ellen’s background and her history with language learning.
Ellen was born in 1958 and raised in Metairie, New Orleans, Louisiana. Her parents, Elliott Evertt DeGeneres and Elizabeth Jane DeGeneres, were also born in New Orleans. Ellen’s mother, better known as Betty, has a history with language as she was a speech language pathologist. A speech language pathologist is specialized in language, specifically speech disorders or speech delays.
Despite this experience with language, neither of Ellen’s parents know another language. Thus, Ellen and her brother, Vance DeGeneres, grew up only speaking English.
It is interesting that Ellen does not know another language as only 40% of the world is monolingual, a person who knows only one language. The other 60% is either bilingual (can speak two languages fluently) trilingual (can speak three languages fluently), multilingual (Can speak four languages fluently) or a polyglot (someone who can speak five or more languages fluently).
Bilingual is the most common as 43% of the world can speak two languages fluently. Interestingly, even though English is so prevalent, only 20% of the world speaks English. Further, only 360 million of these people are native English speakers with English as their first or only language. So, Ellen falls into the group of 360 million native English speakers out of 7.5 billion people in the world.
Ellen’s History with Language
Although Ellen does not know any other languages, she says it is on her bucket list to learn Spanish as it is so prevalent in the United States. 43 million people, or 13% of the population, speaks Spanish in the United States. Ellen says she has tried to learn Spanish before through Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur and by travelling to Mexico, but nothing has helped her.
She goes on to say that the best method of language learning may be from talking to a native speaker. So, on an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Ellen got the actor, Eugenio Siller, from Telenovela Reina de Corazones, to come on the show and teach her some Spanish. He teaches her how to say simple things like hello and very good.
Then, he tries to teach her a popular Spanish phrase: “¡Arriba! ¡Abajo! ¡Al centro! Y pa’dentro!” which is common to say before taking a drink, similar to saying “cheers”. She attempts it a few times, but cannot repeat it in the end. It is safe to say that Ellen is not going to be fluent in Spanish anytime soon.
Even though she is not able to speak any other languages, Ellen has taught other people English. A fan of the talk show, Diana Aquino, emigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic and told Ellen that she learned English from watching The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Diana tells Ellen that when she first started watching the show, she knew no English and didn’t understand anything Ellen was saying, but continued watching. Now, as exemplified in the interview, Diana is fluent and says Ellen is to thank for that.
Ellen ends up giving Diana $10,000 to go towards her schooling.
Even though Ellen does not join 60% of the world’s population in knowing another language, she is still great at communicating and interacting with people in English.