Becoming Bilingual: Learning a Second Language

Mom’s family all come from Spanish-speaking countries (Peru and Mexico mostly). Growing up, my grandmother spoke it to me sometimes. When we moved to Connecticut, the only language my family spoke was English. My mom would work with us a little to speak Spanish, but we never got past things like colors and numbers. Now, at almost 30, I’m working on the journey of learning a second language to better communicate with my family.

Candidly, learning a new language is hard. All the thousands of words I know in English, I want to automatically know in Spanish. And ideally without translating it in my head first. Here are some tips I’ve found to work best for me on this journey.

College-Level Language Classes

The place I developed the most growth in my language development was taking college-level Spanish at the local community college. I went to class 2-3 times a week after work where I was immersed in the language with the professor and my peers. I found that taking the class in person was more beneficial to language development than taking them online. There is a slight cost barrier to this though – $50-150/semester depending on the school/format, plus textbooks.

Duolingo

Duolingo is great for reading and writing, but would be hard to improve speaking/listening skills with. I don’t know of anyone who has learned an entire language solely on Duolingo, but it’s really great for developing consistency. Sign in, learn for 2-5 minutes a day, and keep a streak going. I’m currently 400 days strong and there have only been a few words that were net new to me, but it’s keeping my knowledge fresh.

Meet ups

Related to immersion, there are a ton of meetups in most cities for people looking to learn another language. Finding one that meets in a local place to practice speaking/listening is going to help a ton in actually getting that practice in. You don’t have to travel to Spain, Mexico, or Peru to be able to speak with people fluent in Spanish. The bonus points of this is that it’s a great way to meet people and make friends (which always seems to be a struggle as an adult).

What languages are you trying to learn? What has been working for you in your learnings? Let us know in the comments and on Instagram.

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