Monthly Archives: April 2014

Great news story: Lupita Nyong’o: People magazine’s Most Beautiful Person of 2014 and language champion

One of the challenges for multilingualism and languages education in the Anglobubble  is motivating student interest outside of schools. One powerful solution is to connect languages with star power – in order to create global language champions that people feel connected to and can look up to.

Star power works: advertisers don’t pay big sums to big names in Hollywood and showbusiness for nothing. George Clooney’s leading the global Nespresso campaign has been hugely successful in increasing sales for his sponsor (too successful for some, but that’s another story….). Miranda Kerr gets paid big bucks to promote fabric softener in Japan. The list goes on….

Well, there was great news for languages today involving star power, although most Anglobubblers will be blissfully unaware of the link:  Lupita Nyong’o, glamourous Oscar-winning Hollywood star of “12 Years a Slave” (2013, 3 Oscars), was selected as People magazine’s Most Beautiful Person of 2014.




Amongst her many talents (and there really are many) Lupita Nyong’o  speaks four languages: English, Luo, Spanish and Swahili. Her parents are Kenyan but she was born and partly raised in Mexico. Indeed she considers herself to be Mexican-Kenyan – seen most clearly in her name (Lupita: Mexican/Spanish, Nyong’o Kenyan/Luo). She’s also on record as calling herself Chilanga (the term used for people from Mexico City).

Here’s Lupita being interviewed in Spanish about her experience of Mexico:


Lupita’s story is an amazing one of success  (inc TV, film, documentary making….). Having four languages is no burden, it’s a blessing. Lupita is a marketer’s dream: English, Luo, Spanish and Swahili give incredible reach. Lupita taps into the Anglobubble, Latin America and Spain, Kenya and East Africa with ease. People in all of these areas connect with her.

It’s just a pity newsreaders in the Anglobubble struggle with pronouncing her name, as seen in this clip put together by Jimmy Kimmel Live:



Really? After all the film and media exposure, Oscar speeches?  That’s life in the Anglobubble 😉 ….

All in all, despite this hiccup, a great day for Lupita Nyong’o and for languages. Get the message out. Discuss it with your friends and students. There’s a lot to say, and we can change attitudes and get people learning and appreciating languages. It’s hard to resist star power.

To keep up with the Anglobubble, follow on twitter: JohnHajek_lang



Footifying Australia: Using Australia’s language diversity and love of sport to gain market share. NAB’s winning strategy.

Everyone loves a winner – especially when it has something to do with sport. And sometimes you just have to tip your hat to a really clever winner, in this case the National Australia Bank (NAB).

While some of Australia’s residents might think you only need English to get ahead, others are wise to the fact that there is money to be made in multilingualism. NAB, one of Australia’s big banks, has twigged that an increasing number of Australians speak more than one language. It’s something NAB has used to its commercial advantage in its massive national cross-promotion of Australian rules football. There’s nothing selfless about it of course – it’s all about increasing its own national market share of banking. The campaign targets ten of Australia’s many communities (Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Punjabi, Spanish and Turkish) – with the grand final broadcast in each of their languages (available online for the 2013 end of season clincher).

Talk about ingenious marketing. It uses sport (an immediate winner in itself in Australia) and specifically the excitement of the AFL footy grand final  to attract English-speakers and non-English-speakers alike. Such an event – and the build up to it – gives you tremendous exposure, while the combination of the grand final and ten languages generates huge curiosity from all sides. People want to hear what footy sounds like in different languages, and in their own language.

The ad campaign is really clever – it focusses on teaching people selected to call the grand final in a way that’s authentic and exciting. You also have to work out the terminology….. Is a banana really a banana in your language? Notice too it’s not only the voice but also the body that needs to be taught what to do.



It’s a challenge to call a grand final in just the right way – and some practice is needed – as is shown so well in this next ad. In just a matter of seconds the build up of excitement is palpable. No-one can resist a good call – in whatever language. It really does work!



By the end of this ad, you’re jumping out of your seats. Well done NAB!  Talk about clever…..

Keep it up NAB – we want more of this kind of positive advertising that recognizes language diversity right in the heart of the Anglobubble.

Follow on twitter: JohnHajek_lang