What I want to present here is a series of steps to maintain perfect bilingualism. The first requirement is that one of the languages must be the language spoken where you live. I am going to refer to the “language of residence” as the first language. This has no bearing on skill level, since, according to this definition, I fare better in my second language than in my first. The reason for this first requirement is that the fundamental theorem of bilingualism establishes constraints on how many languages we can truly speak.

Statement of the theorem: Proficiency in more than two languages is an impossibility.
Proof: Take anyone who claims to be proficient in more than two languages. Ask them how to say “pea” in their weakest languages, up to their second strongest; watch them fail.

With this important detail established, we have concluded that after all, there are limits to our brainpower. Be ambitious, but do not dare tread the path of the false idol of polyglotism. You will end up being a simpleton, a multilingual simpleton. Before one can embark on this journey, it is necessary to obsess over a second language to the extent that you learn all its intimate details. After that, one reaches the less arduous maintenance phase which is more about preventing the loss of the desired outcome rather than having to work for something. Opportunity cost is something that handily explains the loss of vocabulary; that word that I looked up in the dictionary five years ago and never in my life saw again was probably rid of by my brain in order to make space for more useful ones.

Another observation is that, through osmosis, one can maintain a reasonable level in the language spoken where one resides, this is the key to maintaining proficiency in one’s first language. This is at least the case for me with Spanish; since 2018, I have only read one book in Spanish and a few tales by Borges and Cortázar. This amounts to less than a day’s worth of reading in the last four years—remarkable!

What one must do next is to force oneself to think in their second language. This cannot be done before reaching an appropriate level, otherwise one risks becoming a caveman. Once one is ready to think in their second language, actually doing so is a task akin to meditation. Thinking is a bit like breathing, it is both voluntary and involuntary. For example, one can force oneself to have positive thoughts and one will find that after a while of doing so their spontaneous thoughts will tend to be more positive than before.

The final step is to consume media preferably in one’s second language. Only do so in your first language after having done so in your second. If you follow these steps, I believe it is no big effort to be perfectly bilingual. At least it has worked for me!

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