Learning Another Language Made Me Smarter, and Richer! – by Sara Araujo

Learning Another Language Made Me Smarter, and Richer! – by Sara Araujo

I’m sure that everyone has already heard or read about how bi(multi)linguals generally earn more than monolinguals, but how does one turn this theory into reality?

An obvious option for bilinguals is translation, but this field, contrary to popular belief, requires more than just being fluent in two languages. Another profitable opportunity is writing, which for some reason most of the bilinguals I know never considered.

When I first began learning Portuguese, I had absolutely no intentions to monetize the skill. I had worked with translation before but my plan was to learn Portuguese for purely personal reasons. I mostly focused on vocabulary, reading short stories, watching videos, and listening to music.

At around this time, I was thinking of trying out a couple of foreign freelance sites. I decided on two Brazilian/Latin American platforms and began searching for assignments that required English speakers. To my surprise, there were many, ranging from article writing and editing to resume writing and personal assistant gigs. I only needed my English skills to work, although my intermediate (at the time) Portuguese came in handy when I needed to chat with my clients.

Finding work wasn’t a problem, especially when I mentioned that I am a native English speaker. It was challenging, and even frustrating at times, finding clients who were willing to pay me fairly for my work. I agreed to two small, low-paying projects at the very beginning just to get my foot in the door but, after awhile, I realized that the majority of clients had very low standards, most likely due to the fact that the cost of labor in Latin America is much lower than in the USA and Canada. My success with foreign clients early on was partially due to the fact that English was my native language, which was and still is a rare occurrence on foreign freelance websites.

A couple of months after I first started working on these platforms, one of my first Brazilian clients contacted me and asked if I could translate his resume from Portuguese to English. I accepted, despite still not being very confident with my Portuguese language skills. It went very well and this became the first of numerous Portuguese to English translation jobs. The pay wasn’t too great and, as my Portuguese improved, I began to venture out and search for more projects. I received a few article assignments from translation client and he enjoyed my work. My confidence and language skills grew so I continued with similar projects. However, the issue with the low pay persisted and, this time, I knew that being a native English speaker wouldn’t help my case at all.

I decided to offer something different to make myself stand out from the other writers. I told a potential client that, instead of writing articles for her in Portuguese, and then translating them for the English version of her blog, I could write bilingual articles. These are different from translated articles because, although both discuss the same idea, the style, structure and specific details of each would be different, where each version would be adapted for readers of the language at hand. She loved the idea and so did a number of future clients. This way, I was able to continue expanding my client base without having to lower my rates.

If you are a writer who is bilingual, or maybe even multilingual, you can begin doing the same thing I did with little to no preparation. You may need to do a bit of research on freelancing platforms that are popular in the country where your foreign language is spoken, or check out some social media groups or forums where potential clients may be hanging out. When pitching, remember to let the client know why you’re different from the other writers and why you’re worth the amount of money you are going to request. Consider the client’s needs, and determine how you could provide them with the best solution using your bilingual writing abilities.

Writing in a foreign language isn’t such a challenging endeavor if you are capable of expressing yourself in the language, and have a good grasp on the grammar. If you are capable of writing in your own language, and managed to become fluent in another, then monetizing those new skills with writing is your next step.


Sara Araujo is a polyglot writer, translator and English teacher. She has been learning foreign languages since she was 7 years old and is always looking for ways to make those languages a part of her life. In her spare time she enjoys baking, swimming, watching movies and learning even more languages. If you’re interested in any of Sara’s services or just want to chat, feel free to contact her through her Hubpages profile: https://hubpages.com/@janisachatte

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