Being able to converse comfortably in many languages might seem like an impressive superpower, but we recently spoke with someone who proves that all it takes to become a polyglot is time and effort. Meet Lina Vasquez, a Latvian-Australian entrepreneur, language coach and YouTuber.
A versatile generalist, Lina is keen on personal development and psychology, and she speaks more languages than you can count on one hand: “At the moment, I feel most comfortable expressing myself in about eight languages — Latvian, English, German, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Russian and Italian.” And she’s not stopping there. Let’s find out how becoming a polyglot (and with a little help of a language app) fulfilled not only Lina’s passions, but also her ambitious career goals.
1. How To Make A Polyglot
Lina grew up speaking English and Latvian as a child, and then added more and more languages to her repertoire as she grew up. First came Spanish, then French and German, and the rest is history. So what’s her secret to learning? “When it comes to methods and strategies, you always have to ask yourself, ‘What exactly do I want to learn today?’ It’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong — the key is that you actively learn and put the language to use frequently and consistently.”
As an extrovert, Lina recognizes that she learns best when she can use a language in real-life communicative contexts, such as giving an interview. She employs a variety of methods to stay accountable and integrate learning into her daily routine: “When I work out, for example, I’ll listen to songs in whichever language I’m focusing on, or I’ll schedule a multilingual business call or a chat with friends who speak it.” Another method includes practicing with language learning apps like Babbel, which Lina uses while doing other everyday activities like drinking her morning coffee.
2. Learning Languages With An App
Lina finds app-based language learning quite effective — in fact, Babbel has accompanied her on a large part of her journey: “Babbel was actually the very first online platform I discovered! I must have been 13 or 14 and it was around the time that online resources were just emerging as a viable tool to use for language learning.” What struck her as an interactive way to learn outside of the typical classroom setting quickly became a convenient outlet to train a diverse variety of language skills.
Ever since Babbel first exposed her to the term “polyglot” 10 years ago, Lina has watched Babbel mature into the app it is today. She finds our latest speech recognition technology particularly useful, especially for practicing dialogues in languages she doesn’t get to use often: “The app gives you that private opportunity to mimic speech from a real native speaker voice (one that isn’t computer-generated!), then compare and test your pronunciation all from one source.”
Lina said Babbel complements her learning routine nicely: “It’s my bite-size lesson throughout the day, and seeing my progress on the app motivates me more.” Whether it’s kickstarting a new language or refining her listening and comprehension skills, Babbel helps Lina avoid the “forgetting curve” by fostering active recall and keeping languages fresh in her mind.
3. From Polyglot To Businesswoman
As you might imagine, polyglots often have their sights set on the stars (and let’s be honest, it takes some hustle to learn over eight languages). The same aspirations that drove Lina’s interest in languages also guided her professional ambitions: “The entire development of my career thus far would not have been possible without my passion and the work that went into learning multiple languages.” With a background in European Union law, Lina has always sought out (and created) work opportunities that allow her to engage with a plurality of languages.
For Lina, multilingualism isn’t just a supplementary skill or a means to travel down traditional career paths. Being a polyglot has taken her career many places, from creating videos for the German foreign ministry to collaborating with prominent YouTubers from across the world. She also delivers coaching sessions and webinars in numerous languages on topics like self-confidence and trauma. As Lina explained, “Career opportunities emerge from the establishment of a connection to another person or group of people. With bilingualism and multilingualism becoming more prominent in the world, the more languages you speak, the more profound and diverse your relationships with other people become.”
Looking ahead, Lina made it clear that wherever her path takes her next, language will be a guiding force. She aims to give workshops, coaching sessions and speeches in all of her languages someday. Her main focus right now is on French, Italian, Russian and Mandarin, though she eventually wants to try her hand at Arabic and Japanese.
4. Lina’s Top 3 Tips For Language Learning
1. Know How You Learn
“The number one piece of advice I would give to you if you’ve just started learning a language would be to focus on the process, not the end result. Take the time to understand through trial and error who you are and how YOU learn best.”
2. Make Language Learning A Priority
“Busy doesn’t mean stressed, it just means you need to have clear priorities and pick what your focus is for the near future. I am a firm believer of the fact that if you have an overview of your life, then you don’t need to give up anything that is important to you. So if learning a language is a priority, then you need to ensure that each day reflects that to some degree.”
3. Fit Learning Into Your Daily Grind
“Learning a language isn’t talent or luck, it’s really just a trained skill and habit! I ensure that I mix small activities into my daily routine that allow me to create a habit. The hardest part is always just starting a task, so when that Babbel reminder pops up for me in the evening, it makes it very simple to just open up the app and be presented with a review task that I just have to tap on to begin.”