Close this search box.
Close this search box.

5 Tips for Speaking Another Language Fluently

Why your employees and business will benefit from multilingualism

As leaders and managers in today’s increasingly global marketplace, at some point we’ve all encountered colleagues, partners, or customers who are either multilingual or whose native language differs from your own. Gaining fluency in a new language—and utilizing this skill in private conversation and public forums—sends a powerful message about the strategic vision of a global organization and goes a long way in building trust and strengthening relationships.

As more and more companies look to global expansion, board members and other key decision makers will be looking for leaders who are able to connect with employees of all levels. Having experience working in an international setting and being able to effectively communicate cross-culturally has increasingly become critical for aspiring CEOs and C-suite executives as it allows them to offer broader perspective and thinking, thus making themselves more attractive as potential leadership candidates. More often than not, international work experience is a qualification for CEO positions.

But how can an over-scheduled CEO find time to learn a new language or brush up on old language skills? Setting aside 30 minutes a day, three to five times a week for language sessions will get you off to a great start. It also is best to use the technology that you rely on most, such as your smartphone, tablet, computer or other device. This puts language learning at your fingertips, enabling you to learn at your own pace in a space in which you feel most comfortable.

Here are 5 tips to help you move from foundational learning to language fluency.

1. Start where you are. It is not unusual to have studied languages earlier in life. How much is retained later differs for everyone. Find a program that offers a placement test to identify the appropriate level to restart your language learning. Starting from scratch on a new language? Select a program that thoroughly develops foundational skills before moving on to more challenging lessons.

2. Prioritize speaking confidence. Overcoming reluctance to speak a new language in front of others is a key milestone. As you learn new phrases, such as greetings, use them with native speakers. Seeing that you’ve made the effort will garner instant appreciation and helpful feedback. It also demonstrates your commitment, which goes a long way in building a connection with your team. Today, there are many language learning programs that tap into speech-recognition technology that can guide you to correct pronunciation, allowing you to practice words and sentences until you have mastered them.

3. Focus on business-relevant language. Once you have developed foundational language skills, step up to targeted business- and industry-specific content. Search for advanced language lessons and activities that are relevant to your mission and include both industry and professional vocabulary.

4. Place an accent on culture. Going global doesn’t mean entering new markets and staying within the confines of your native language and culture. Cultural sensitivity, awareness and knowledge adds rich context to the language you are learning. Look for opportunities to understand traditions, cultural nuances, cuisine, art and history connected to the language you are learning.

5. Learn on the go. Tackling language learning often circles back to finding time to do it. Thanks to technology, many language lessons and practice activities are now accessible on smartphones, tablets, desktops—even watches. Yes, there are apps for that, and they are a convenient way to be sure you can fit in language sessions wherever your schedule takes you—whether you are on an airplane, in a car or hotel, or just sitting in your office.

Learning a new language doesn’t happen overnight, but it will allow you to communicate more effectively with internal teams, as well as clients and partners, opening up new worlds and possibilities. Done right, it also can be tremendously satisfying and fun.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.