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Dream of speaking multiple languages? 3 polyglots share their secret tips

Dream of speaking multiple languages? 3 polyglots share their secret tips

Speaking multiple languages is a dream for many people. Becoming a polyglot — someone who speaks several languages fluently — is a particularly impressive feat. Proficiency in multiple languages can help you advance in your career and make new social connections. It also enriches your travel experiences as you navigate new countries and cultures.

We spoke to three polyglots to get their secret tips and top advice to help anyone achieve their language-learning dreams.

Meet our polyglots

Ines, Chief Marketing Officer, France

French: Native 
English: C2
Spanish: C1

Guillermo, Corporate Category Manager, Germany 

Spanish: Native
English: C2
German: C2

Alvaro, Lawyer, Spain

Spanish: Native
English: C2
French: C2
Arabic: Beginner
Portuguese: Beginner

Tip 1: Start speaking from day one

When learning a new language, it’s common to wait until you reach a certain milestone or feel ‘ready’ to begin speaking. But our polyglots all agree that this is not the best way to learn. “The best way to improve is actually speaking the language with native speakers,” says Alvaro. This is the only way you will cement your learning, and it will also give you confidence knowing that you can communicate in a new language. “Don’t be shy and dare to try,” says Ines.

Tip 2: Study abroad

Ines learned Spanish on holidays and study abroad trips in Mexico, Argentina, and Spain. Alvaro learned English and French when he moved to Luxembourg as a teenager, and Guillermo learned German when he moved to Germany in 2007.

Moving abroad offers you a great way to immerse yourself in the language daily, and is the best way to fast-track your language skills.

Tip 3: Language confusion is part of the journey

Ines says that learning languages abroad, in their native context, has helped her avoid mixing them up too much. “I don’t have problems with mixing languages as I have been improving both languages while living abroad. I like to think I always have a plan B if I don’t get the word in one language.”

Guillermo says that he still mixes up languages, especially false friends between English and German. “It doesn’t help that some German words are very similar to English (and the other way around) so it's easy to mix them up once in a while. And translating some technical from German to English "on the go", having learned the term only in German can be quite challenging too.”

Alvaro agrees, adding “I have given up on the fact that this may happen at any time,” he says.

Ultimately, even experienced polyglots experience language confusion. So as soon as you accept that this might happen, you can move past the stress of what you don't know and focus on what you do know. 

Tip 4: Think about the end goal

Remind yourself of why you started learning the language and the potential benefits it can bring. Think of career opportunities, travel experiences, or connecting with people from different cultures to reignite your motivation during slumps.

Guillermo says he wouldn’t have his current job if not for his language skills. “I got my first job solely for my language skills. The job required quite a lot of experience and I had none. The hiring manager saw a bigger opportunity in my language skills. No Google Translate or ChatGPT will ever be able to replace the need to speak different languages. One-on-one communication (on the phone and in person) will remain a very important part of doing business.”

And in Alvaro’s instance, as well as speaking all three languages for work, he also speaks French daily at home with his French wife. “I could not have done what I’ve done or currently do without speaking multiple languages,” he says.

Tip 5: Final piece of advice

Funnily enough, all three polyglots we spoke to shared the same final piece of advice: have patience! It’s not easy to learn a new language, and it takes time. But it's definitely worth it!

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