Are you Bilingual? Are You Sure?
Updated: Nov 1, 2021
Bilingualism is fast becoming a staple executive skill. But what about “bi-eloquence”? Being 100% comfortable in both languages is still a rare and unique value proposition if you are looking to scale up your career. Read on to learn what hallmark milestones are measures of bilingual competence.
"The milliseconds that it takes for the unengaged listener to repair a phrase in spoken language is time that is not being spent doing what every presenter would like their audience to do. Listen."
After almost a decade of language skills training and coaching services, meeting regularly with individual professionals, executives, professors, scientists, and other disciplined and goal-measuring adults, we know who we are serving here at Beacon BCS and recognize those who have language gaps to fill. As bilingual professionals ourselves, we share in the discomfort of not being equally eloquent in English and Spanish.
On a scale of 1 – 5, how do you rate yourself?
1. Are you comfortable standing in front of a small or large group of people and leading the conversation in both English and Spanish?
Many second-language speakers lean on their first language when mentally searching for a word or phrase. Translating ideas traps you in a verbal dead end as you realize that the idiom you were going to use does not translate. Hesitation, the use of fillers buys time but makes the message (and the messenger) appear unfocused and reduces credibility. Most bilingual speakers do not know how to correctly pronounce hypotenuse in both languages.
2. Do you read comfortably in your second language?
Reading in your second language can be challenging and for ease and enjoyment, you revert to your first language. “It’s not that I cannot read in my second language; It is just so challenging”? Comprehension and reading practice reduce that imbalance so that reading feels less like swimming in honey and more like a flowing breeze as you peruse a journal article or a favorite book.
3. Have you been asked to repeat yourself because the listener does not get your message or understand your pronunciation?
The fact is that everyone has an accent, but pronunciation, inflection, and word or syllabus stress that changes the meaning of the message or is a distortion that rings unfamiliar to the listener is an avoidable distraction. Form, structure, and intonation are critical within the accepted lexicon and are part of standard speech in every language. Distortion in pronunciation or language form (or both!) causes static in the listener’s reception, sidetracking attention on the speaker and reducing effective message delivery. The milliseconds that it takes for the unengaged listener to repair a phrase in spoken language is time that is not being spent doing what every presenter would like their audience to do. Listen. Disengaging the listener is never a good idea when you are persuading, promoting, educating, or informing.
4. Do you admire people who speak fluently and accurately in both languages?
Public speakers recognize and respect those who can wing it and say what they have to say with intention and purpose in both their first and second language. Let us notice it when we see it and give credit to that individual’s willingness to fill the gaps in their language and communication skills to meet the needs of the listener in the message as it is being delivered.
"Equal eloquence, reduced anxiety and fear, clearer messaging, and confidence in the delivery of your knowledge, experience, and training is an achievable goal."
Now consider that with guidance and focused practice led by a professional who is knowledgeable in her first language, certified to teach that language, and dedicated to the honor of supporting the achievement of the client’s goals, you can be directed on your own best learning trajectory to close the gaps and feel skilled and competent in both languages. Equal eloquence, reduced anxiety and fear, clearer messaging, and confidence in the delivery of your knowledge, experience, and training is an achievable goal.
Call us for a free assessment and review in reading, writing, listening, and speaking with our Lead English or Spanish Trainer. You will experience our online classroom platform without pressure, in a safe and private environment where you can examine your language skill gaps. Stop asking for permission to change languages mid-meeting. You have tried to do it alone. Now let us help. We will present the material you need to make faster progress in filling your language skill gaps using a relevant and individualized curriculum that is tailored to suit your needs.