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Learning to speak a second language

Updated on October 21, 2014
Photo of my own personal franklin tes-118.
Photo of my own personal franklin tes-118. | Source

Different ways to become Bilingual and learn to speak, write and read a second language

It is very common in many countries for people to speak 2 languages or more, especially in Europe. With business becoming more global and with the use of internet and air travel, it makes a lot of sense for a person to learn an extra language or two. My native language is English but I am also bilingual in Spanish. I would love to learn more languages but for now these are the only languages I am fluent in. There are many ways to learn a second or third language. There are people that swear by programs like Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur but others need the structure of a classroom. Some believe that total immersion is the real way to do this by getting a grasp on the language and then living where that language is only spoken. There are no right answers because people learn at different paces and different stimuli. I am one that learns better by classroom activity and immersion. Not everyone can afford or have the time to live in another country for a few months so that may not be a viable option for you but is probably the most effective way to learn a language assuming you have some basic knowledge of the language. I took 3 years of Spanish in high school, 2 semesters in college and have spent several months in spanish speaking countries where I ended up meeting my wife so I also have a native speaker to improve my spanish. Learning another language/s opens up more opportunities in life and ways to communicate with others throughout the world.

Totally Bilingual or just a good grasp on the language

It is hard to get bilingual where you can hold fluid conversations and think in the language of choice. Classes and computer programs can only do so much and takes time and a lot of effort using these methods to become bilingual. Once you have a good grasp on a language, the best way in my opinion, is to talk with a native speaker as much as possible. I can read and write Spanish well but I am still not 100 percent fluent when in comes to the conversational aspect of it. There are always slang/expressions and a few words that I do not know. So it is a never ending learning process and in the future would like to learn Portugese.

Many people would just like a grasp on the language and be able to hold simple conversations or just get their point across. When I used to travel a lot, on the airplanes you would always see several individuals with phrasebooks, electronic translators and dictionaries of the country's language they are going to visit. Cramming at the last minute so to speak. If you like to travel a lot to a specific country or just want a grasp on a language, I recommend taking a class/es at the community college in the language you want to learn or using a Rosetta Stone/Pimsleur product in the entry levels. I am a budget minded person so if I was going to France in a few months and not going to be a recurring thing, I would get a couple textbooks used in a high school setting and pocket sized dictionary. I would learn words that I were important to me, simple verb forms and useful phrases. Then I would try to find a native speaker locally I could practice on. I do highly recommend an electronic translator that does VERB CONJUGATIONS. This way you can translate and say complete sentences. A lot of the cheap translators only have simple phrases and single words. If you are going to be cheap on a translator, just use a dictionary. Most translators that conjugate verbs, have a large word database, etc start at about 50 dollars so not a huge investment.

What language? Start early. Concluding thoughts

Only you can decide what language you want to learn. Usually it is the language that interests you or has an impact in your career or frequent travel plans. If you are going into anime it makes sense to learn Japanese. If you like to vacation in Mexico or the Dominican Republic a couple of times a year it would be beneficial to learn spanish. The choice is yours alone and there is no harm in trying to learn more than a few foreign languages. It opens up more opportunities for you.

If you are in school or a parent of a school age child, let them take foreign language classes as early as possible. When I was in school, foreign language wasn't offered until high school and wasn't a requirement. Many schools are offering Spanish, French and other languages in middle school and a certain amount is even required at some schools. Your mind is still developing at younger ages and so is the best time to pick up and learn another language at an advanced rate. Becoming a foreign exchange student or hosting one are other great options. Don't worry, we can all still learn at any age and hope I have given some helpful information and links to products that may suit your learning style.

Place your vote

What is the best way to learn a foreign language?

See results

Pimsleur products on Amazon - I do not currently own any of these products but am familiar with Pimsleur and I feel they are better than Rosetta Stone.

Pimsleur Spanish Conversational Course - Level 1 Lessons 1-16 CD: Learn to Speak and Understand Latin American Spanish with Pimsleur Language Programs (English and Spanish Edition)
Pimsleur Spanish Conversational Course - Level 1 Lessons 1-16 CD: Learn to Speak and Understand Latin American Spanish with Pimsleur Language Programs (English and Spanish Edition)

I highly suggest learning Latin American Spanish unless you are travelling to Spain since the majority of countries do not use the vosotros form and have their own way of using Spanish.


Rosetta Stone Products on Amazon - For those who like Rosetta Stone over Pimsleur

Learn Spanish: Rosetta Stone Spanish (Latin America) Level 1-2
Learn Spanish: Rosetta Stone Spanish (Latin America) Level 1-2

They have various sets and the 1-2 set are for those who want to learn basic Spanish and simple conversations.


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    • lindseyahageman profile image

      lindseyahageman 3 years ago

      Great lens! I've found that if it's not possible to live abroad, then at least speaking to native speakers or just listening to a lot of the language is really effective.

    • federico-biuso profile image

      federico-biuso 3 years ago

      Interesting lens about learning a new language... I think that the best way to learn the language is to immerse yourself in the community and in the culture of a Country.... no other ways will lead to the same results!!!

    • profile image

      Doc_Holliday 3 years ago

      I've found the talking translator to be a lot easier than having to learn a new language although there have been many giggles over the translator word. Fortunately, it hasn't got me into any trouble so far.

    • Coleton LM profile image

      Coleton LM 4 years ago

      I'd love to be a polyglot at some point, but I'm still working on just a second language. It's amazing how much you can discover about a culture from their language.

    • worldwidesouven profile image

      worldwidesouven 5 years ago

      I'm Russian, I involved my kid from age of 4 to learning English. Now she is 8, and is starting to learn spanish. Thank you for the lens, now I become more confident that early learning is a good deal.

    • profile image

      Traveller579 5 years ago

      Awesome lens, I would like to your lens!!!

    • profile image

      bellehartley 5 years ago

      Awesome lens! I'm currently learning French and actually wrote a lens about it too. I think being bilingual is a great advantage.

    • alphatraduk profile image

      alphatraduk 5 years ago

      Great lens! I am in the middle of learning Portuguese, Its pretty hard to keep pushing myself to the next level especially when faced with rosetta stone. I just find it boring! I learned most of my Portuguese living with my partners family as they don't speak much English. I deff think that speaking the language as often as possible is the best way forward. Twisted wiseman deff has the right idea watching TV in the language you want to learn is a great idea you will be suprised how much you will actually be able to decipher!

    • Keepingscore profile image

      Keepingscore 5 years ago

      My daughters all want to learn different languages. Thanks for the lens.

    • TwistedWiseman profile image

      TwistedWiseman 5 years ago

      Well I learned English myself just by watching Cartoon Network for about 4 years.

      I know Czech because that is my second language and Serbian is my main.

      I barely know German but it's something.

    • Gabriel360 profile image

      Gabriel360 5 years ago

      I would like to learn another language! :D French and Spanish. :)

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      I have lived in two foreign speaking countries and wholeheartedly believe the best way to learn the language is to immerse yourself in the community and country. It's a great experience.

    • rainbowbutterfl1 profile image

      rainbowbutterfl1 6 years ago

      Nice lens. English is my 2nd language and I learned little Spanish too during elementary days before it was abolished as part of school curriculum, Now, I'm learning Cantonese as I am living in Hong Kong. It's nice to learn other languages around the globe .

    • profile image

      CornellRedhead 6 years ago

      Nice! I studied both Spanish and Chinese in college...some of my favorite textbooks

    • profile image

      rusita86 6 years ago

      great article, check out mine about learning styles :)

    • profile image

      jimmyworldstar 6 years ago

      It's true that it's easier for younger children to absorb languages because of how their brain develops, but if you put enough effort then you can still learn a language too at an older age. Immersion is the key to learning a language, you need to live it, breath it, speak it often to keep it in your memory.

    • DeannaDiaz profile image

      DeannaDiaz 6 years ago

      Age has nothing to do with it. I am a mother of 5 and nearing 40 and I am learning Creole at lightning speed!

    • profile image

      agent009 6 years ago

      It's easiest to become bilingual when you're a a kid but for those who are older, you have to immerse yourself and just keep practicing constantly.

    • cheech1981 profile image

      cheech1981 6 years ago

      it's funny that most people who took the poll put that the classroom is best. this is a common misconception. i took almost 5 years of italian and the only thing I can remember is stuff like "non parlo italiano" haha. I lived abroad in Guatemala for 5 weeks and was already speaking some spanish (horrible of course, but speaking and understanding a bit, which is more than I can say after being an A+ student for 5 years). 5 years and 6 countries later and i'm close to fluent in Spanish (other people call me fluent, but I know I have room to improve). i'll be in ecuador for 5 weeks this winter can't wait!

    • StudioElysee profile image

      StudioElysee 6 years ago

      I teach French and while I have seen some great results in the classroom I agree- -nothing beats living where the language is spoken! Great subject for a lens and well done presentation!

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 6 years ago from Perth UK

      I taught myself French when I was very young, and progressed to German. I did my degree in Chinese and I taught myself Italian. My son is 11 and he is fluent in Italian, is learning French and German. It's great to be able to communicate to people round the world. Great lens Thanks.

    • profile image

      FrenchSelection 6 years ago

      Although it is It is hard to get fully bilingual, it can have a positive effect on your employment prospects as you could apply for roles that specifically require bilingual speakers. Stick with it and as the Lens says try all the different ways of learning.

    • Tgolf1 profile image

      Terje Ostgaard 6 years ago from Guardamar, Alicante, Spain

      Nice lens! Welcome to visit mine about putting your lanuages to use and work as a freelance translator.

    • fluffyclouds profile image

      fluffyclouds 6 years ago

      Great lens! Learning a foreign language has so many benefits. You might find some interest in my lens on a program designed for young children learning a second language :

    • profile image

      fsilvestre 6 years ago

      Every one dreams to learn and speak new languages. Such a nice lens indeed!

    • profile image

      fsilvestre 6 years ago

      Indeed, it is a dream of everyone to learn and speak new languages. It's a great lens indeed!

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 7 years ago

      Excellent lens- spent a bit of time learning Hangul, the Korean alphabet. This is a great resource.

    • stefanruse profile image

      stefanruse 7 years ago

      Very useful and informative lens. Well done.

    • stephenteacher profile image

      Stephen Carr 7 years ago from Corona, CA

      Nice lens! Wish I had more time to learn more Spanish.

    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 7 years ago from Nashville, TN

      great lens....I know four languages and working on both Mandarin and Cantonese at the just takes not getting overwhelmed and doing a little each day.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Nice Post!

      german language vocabulary

    • JackieBlock profile image

      Jackie Block 7 years ago from SE Michigan

      Nice lens. I like the Michel Thomas Method. I found it to be quite effective in helping me learn french. I plan on using his system to learn other languages in the future.

    • retro-gamer profile image

      Howard 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you for visiting the lens and say hello or give me your thoughts on the lens. Thank you.