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What Languages Does Shakira Speak? 

With such an international reach and a fan base that stretches across continents, it’s only natural that Shakira speaks a couple of languages. So, what languages does Shakira speak and how well does she speak them? Let’s find out more!

Colombian singing sensation Shakira is known across the globe for her unique voice, dance skills, and multilingual chart-topping hits. Recently sharing the Super Bowl halftime show with Latina icon, J. Lo, despite being in the show business for close to two decades, Shakira is still belting out tunes and shaking those truthful hips for her legions of international fans.

What Languages Does Shakira Speak?

In total, the Colombian songstress speaks a whopping seven different languages, Spanish, which is her native language, English, French, Italian, Arabic, Catalan, and Portuguese. Growing up in Colombia with a Colombian mother and Lebanese father meant that Shakira predominantly spoke Spanish as well as a bit of Arabic.  

The Colombian Flag on a street in Colombia

As she traveled around the world on tour, she began to pick up more and more languages. When her label wanted to release her music in multiple languages, she wanted to be able to ensure that nothing was mistranslated in her lyrics.

So, she took it upon herself to learn more languages to maintain the meaning of her songs. Pretty cool, huh? Sure beats having a hit-and-miss translator messing around on your record!

Here’s a video of Shakira speaking 6 languages:

How Well Does Shakira Speak English?

When it comes to English, Shakira speaks English fluently. She can be seen and heard giving interviews and singing in English pretty much throughout her career.

With English being the most widely spoken language in the world, it’s a handy language for any global superstar to know, especially if you’re wanting to break into America, and garner a solid following there.

In fact, English was the first language that the record label wanted to translate Shakira’s Spanish-language album into, so it was the first language that she used to make sure her songs were correctly translated!

It paid off as her songs are super popular in plenty of English-speaking countries across the world. 

Does Shakira Speak Portuguese?

Growing up in South America, pretty much every single country speaks Spanish as a first language. The exception? Brazil, which famously speaks Portuguese due to a different brand of colonialism.

When a young Shakira was starting out, she was sent out on a Brazilian multi-date tour to garner a more traditional South American following and fan base. 

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As she toured around Brazil, she picked up more and more Portuguese, and more dedicated fans. As a result, she resolved to learn Portuguese properly and is now fluent in the language, and you can find multiple Brazilian interviews where she’s conversing freely with the media and fans alike.

It’s worth mentioning that Shakira speaks more Brazilian Portuguese than traditional European Portuguese. Although the base of the language is the same, there are some differences in pronunciation, grammar, and slang which means they’re not always universally understandable in either nation.

Think about it like French versus Canadian French- the basics remain the same, but there are enough differences that it can be tricky to fully understand. 

Why Does Shakira Speak Arabic?

As Shakira’s father is Lebanese, it’s likely that she knows Arabic through him. In fact, her name, Shakira, means grateful in Arabic. This is likely to pay homage to her Middle Eastern roots.

In addition to this, her trademark belly dancing which can be seen in many of her music videos and live performances has its roots in Middle Eastern culture. 

By marrying together more traditional Latin American styles of music with more Middle Eastern performance styles, Shakira gives performances that meld together her heritage and bring out the best of both worlds.

This has also broadened her fan base in the Middle East and North Africa where Arabic is widely spoken. In fact, Shakira has a far-reaching fan base across Africa, after recording Waka Waka (This time for Africa) as the official song of the 2010 Football World Cup, which was held in South Africa. 

Can Shakira Speak French?

There are plenty of clips of Shakira giving interviews in French, but as the singer herself will admit, she doesn’t consider herself fluent.

That being said she has spent a lot of her life traveling around Europe and a large legion of fans in France, who she can talk to and understand pretty handily, so although she might not think she’s fluent, she knows more than enough to get by.

Are you thinking about learning French, too? Check out these books to get you started.

Does Shakira Sing in Multiple Languages?

Although Shakira can speak and understand the seven languages that we’ve spoken about above, she has also sung in a variety of other languages. Online, you can find footage of Shakira singing in German and even Latin.

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Despite the footage of her singing in these other languages, there is no record of whether Shakira can speak or understand either German or Latin with any fluency. 

Can Shakira Speak Catalan?

Although the fluency level is unknown, Shakira can speak and understand Catalan, the language that is mostly spoken in Eastern Spain and Andorra.

As the first language of many major Spanish cities including Barcelona, Valencia, Tarragona, and Girona, the Catalan language sounds like a hybrid between French and Spanish.

It’s likely that Shakira learned Catalan during the years married to her now ex-husband, Gerard Pique. Pique was a center-back for Barcelona for the majority of his career, and with Barcelona leading the charge for Catalonia’s independence, the language is widely spoken all over the city.

If you live in Barcelona or have ever visited the city, you’ll likely have seen bilingual signs all over the place, especially on public transport.

Shakira’s Catalan language skills were the subject of controversy when she released a video of her singing in Catalan. Many Spanish residents outside of the Catalonia regions labeled her a traitor to Spain. It sounds extreme, but at the time Catalonia was trying to become independent.

The majority of the residents of Catalonia voted to secede from the rest of Spain. The Spanish government, however, deemed the vote illegal and chose not to honor it. The result? A lot of rioting and protests that lasted weeks. 

So, for Shakira to sing in Catalan during this period was a huge political statement and one that wasn’t welcomed with open arms by many.

Can Shakira Speak Italian?

One of the seven languages that Shakira is listed as speaking is Italian. Although she doesn’t claim to speak it as fluently as English or Spanish, she can speak, understand and sing in Italian. 

As she has Italian roots on her mother’s side, it might be that the interest in the language has come from there, however, living in Spain, Italy is super close and a popular vacation destination, particularly among footballers and the wealthy elite.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Shakira visited consistently while living in Europe and wanted to learn the language. Also, she has a considerable fanbase in Italy, so in order to speak with her fans and the media without an interpreter, Shakira may have taken it upon herself to learn Italian and add to her roster of languages.

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Why Does Shakira Know So Many Languages?

There are a lot of reasons why certain stars become bilingual or multilingual. A lot of the time, they’re traveling around the world and want to be able to communicate with local press, and fans and integrate themselves into the culture for the amount of time that they’re there.

With Shakira growing up in a bilingual household, with both Arabic and Spanish being spoken, the importance placed on language and culture would have been clear.

As she began her career and saw certain limitations with singing only in Spanish, Shakira knew that she’d have to start performing in multiple languages.

The problem? Shakira didn’t want any of her lyrics mistranslated, so she decided to learn the languages that she was going to record in and translated them herself. This way the meaning behind her music remained the same.

How’s that for artistic integrity?

Shakira has also lived all over the world with her ex-husband and kids, so she was bound to learn more languages in order to integrate and assimilate into the local culture.

The best way to learn a new language is through immersion, so by living in a location that speaks your target language, you have to be using it and practicing it all the time. Even if you don’t understand it all, you’re hearing the sound of it all day, every day, so your brain starts to recognize patterns, words, and phrases.

Shakira Can Speak 7 Languages! Ready to Start Learning?

So, in total, Shakira can speak seven languages and can sing in at least two more than that, making her an indisputable polyglot. With Shakira having a far-reaching fan base, her living in multiple countries, and her own multicultural roots, it’s the perfect mix for interest in a skill like language learning.

Are you interested in learning any of the languages that Shakira speaks? I’m currently working on French and spending a ton of time on the LingQ app (my latest language obsession, yes, it’s better than Duolingo!), which has all 7 of these languages available!