Tips and Tricks for Becoming Bilingual

Posted on Aug 8, 2017 | 0 comments

Tips and Tricks for Becoming Bilingual

If you are reading this article with relative ease, you are already fluent in one language. This being the case, you likely also have the tools necessary to acquire and become fluent in a second (or third, or fourth) language. Although the process of learning a new language is hardly as simple as recognizing your language learning potential, it is an important fact to keep in mind while navigating your way through the various language acquisition tools and aids available today.


Most formally educated adults have had some form of foreign language education in school. But while many are able to recall a small percentage of the grammar, syntax and vocabulary they studied in the foreign language classroom, most students fail to become functionally fluent solely through academic training. Some argue that there are obvious reasons for academia’s failure to output multilingual speakers. According to this theory, neither the pressure of a formal academic setting nor the decontextualized study of grammar allow for spontaneous and exploratory conversation. Others argue that the classroom is still ultimately the best setting for some types of language learners.



Regardless of where you learn best, the following are helpful tips and tricks for jump-starting or improving your language acquisition. Finding out which of these methods and tools work best for you will undoubtedly put you on the road to fluency in a new language.


Change your language learning perspective.


Individuals who argue against their ability to achieve fluency in another language often cite the fact that they are adults, and therefore no longer possess the aptitude or sponge-like brains they had during their younger years – a challenging situation to overcome. In fact, adults often display higher language acquisition ability because they have more experience learning languages, and because they often have a more sophisticated understanding of the context surrounding a word or sentence.


Another key change to consider is reversing the language learning process traditionally followed in academic settings. Rather than pouring over books and memorizing grammar rules, find a friend with a second language in common and dive into a conversation. Learning on the fly through successes and failures in real time will not only help you develop your listening skills, but will force you to rapidly produce the language, leading to quicker reaction times and more successes in the future, which in turn will stimulate faster learning.


Consider alternative language learning methods.


Technology has made several effective alternative language learning practice available to anyone with an internet connection:

  • Duolingo is a mobile phone application that allows for a short language lesson every day, and helps keep users consistent by both requiring review of already-learned concepts, and sending daily reminders to users to complete new lessons. Reminders can also be adjusted or turned off, if desired.
  • Skype-based foreign language conversation services, like Italki and Busuu, help pair partners interested in conversing in a common language. Simply choose which language who wish to speak, find a partner, and set a regular meeting time.
  • Language-learning podcasts such as the News in Slow… series, the Coffee Break series, and Actual Fluency, are free, excellent road-trip companions, constantly offering subscribers and listeners new lessons and challenges.  


Embrace failure.


No matter the level of pressure imposed by the language acquisition setting, new language learners are bound to make mistakes. These mistakes are a vital piece of the learning process, and should thus be recognized as beneficial, rather than detrimental. In failing, individuals learn the nuances of the language they are studying firsthand, and are therefore more easily able to hold themselves accountable in avoiding such a mistake in future conversation.


Practice really does make perfect.


In understanding the importance of regular second language practice, consider how long it has taken you to achieve your current level of fluency. Reaching the end of a class, finishing a podcast series, or completing a workbook in a particular language should not be the conclusion of your practice. Maintaining fluency requires just as much effort as obtaining it. If focusing solely on the language you want to speak is no longer difficult enough, enroll in an academic course in that language that covers more abstract concepts, such as economics or sociology, and read literature that will challenge your understanding in your new tongue.


No matter what kind of learner you are, consistency and dedication to practice are the most important pieces of the language acquisition puzzle. Set a goal for yourself, set a deadline, and enjoy the educational journey.




Do you want more information on becoming multilingual for a global career?


Passport Career provides more detailed career information and extensive resources about networking, finding an international job or internship, country-specific business protocol and culture, alternative career opportunities, writing country-specific resumes/CVs, cover letters and interview strategies for other countries. If your university/college, organization, company, embassy, library, or other institution would like access to our country portfolios and global career training program (50,000+ pages of expert content for 90+ countries and 275+ cities) to share with your students, employees, spouses/partners, and others managing a national or international career transition, please click here to contact us (or send email to: regarding a free, live, online demo and details on how to obtain a license to access Passport Career.

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