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As a full-service language service provider (LSP) we couldn’t do what we do without our beloved language specialists—aka linguists, translators, multilingual all-stars—you know, those irreplaceable people who ensure we can read the instructions when we attempt to put together our new Ikea furniture! Linguists are the heart (well, voice maybe) of any translation company and it takes passion, dedication and hard work to become one.

Did you know that language specialists spend years honing their skills and never stop educating themselves? Language is constantly evolving and linguists must always stay current as their job entails so much more than mere “word swapping.”

Our own language expert, Iñaki Hernández-Lasa, details a few vital steps for those looking to become fluent in another language.

“Learning a language takes effort and commitment. It is a slow process whereby simple language structures and vocabulary gradually expand. There are a number of important elements to bear in mind when deciding to embark into learning a new language:

  1. Immerse yourself – Make sure that you jump into very basic structures and vocabulary from the very outset. Social interaction, progress, and sharing experiences with other people and native speakers of the language is critical.
  2. Set small goals – You will not be able to master the subjunctive after a week. Start slowly, with gradual steps, and set clear objectives in mind: short term, medium term, long term.
  3. Get friends and family behind you – It is very important that you receive support and acknowledgment for your continued efforts.
  4. Try not to use your mother tongue during classes – Once you progress into a more advanced level, rather than using your mother tongue, use descriptions to define terms if you don’t know them in the language you are learning.
  5. Read and listen – Nowadays the possibilities are endless compared to many years ago – the Internet, online films, programs, eBooks, documentaries. Start with something that you like. If you are into nature, watch nature documentaries in that language.
  6. Visit the country – I firmly believe that for someone to be fully bilingual, they also need to be fully bi-cultural. It is very important not only to speak the language but also to follow the rules and customs of the country.”

About the Expert

Iñaki Hernández-Lasa has 24 years of experience in the localization industry and currently works at Sajan. He has a Master’s in Translation Studies and previously worked as the Official Translator of Speeches for former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson.

This excerpt by Sajan language expert, Iñaki Hernández-Lasa, was originally posted in TakeLessons feature article:  9 Language Experts Share Their Secrets on How to Become Fluent. Be sure to read the full post for expert advice on becoming fluent.

Read more from other language specialists in some of our previous blog posts!

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