The Benefits of Being Bilingual
In today’s world, we often face situations where we find ourselves lost in translation. And it’s not uncommon for there to be a language barrier in most social and business situations. The U.S. in particular is now more diverse than ever and the trend of learning multiple languages or being bilingual continues to be popular and commonplace.
America Is A Diverse Nation
It’s important to remember that English isn’t considered the official language of America, RedLine simply calls it the de facto one . In fact, there is no “official” language in the U.S. Today, about 381 different languages are spoken and used in the U.S. The most popular among these languages, aside from English, is Spanish, which has over 37.6 million speakers living in the U.S. Other widespread languages include: Chinese (2.9m), Vietnamese (1.4m), French (1.3m), and German (1.1m). With so many different actively spoken languages in the U.S., the prospect of learning several isn’t that unusual.
Bilingual Culture In Business
Being bilingual is helpful in a variety of ways, especially in business situations. If you run or are part of a business that works with clients who speak foreign languages establishing a clear-line of communication is key. In this situation hiring individuals to be on your team who speak multiple languages can be advantageous and shows your business is accommodating. Jobs and careers in translation in particular are prevalent right now. According to the Bureau Of Labor Statistics, the employment of translators is due to increase by 22 percent from 2008 to 2018.
The Avantages Of Growing Up With Multiple Languages
Nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population is bilingual and while learning a language at any age can provide benefits, learning one from a young age can provide several developmental advantages. One advantage is enhanced cognitive flexibility which allows children to cope better in new and unfamiliar situations and increases their ability to think critically. Knowing multiple languages also contributes to sharper brain function later in life, keeping the brain active and healthy. In addition, children will have faster word processing and deduction skills thanks to the added vocabulary.
What Languages Are Easy To learn?
Any Roman language like Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Hungarian shares built-in similarities to the English language and is therefore easier to learn than very different languages like Chinese and Arabic. These “romance” languages share certain cognates and have common roots that are found in English. Many English words are in fact derived from Roman languages. Roman languages in particular are also often taught in school at the middle and high-school level and are made available to children from a young age making them popular and accessible.
How Can I Learn A New Language?
There is a myth about certain people possessing a language learning gene, which supposedly makes it easier for them to learn languages. It’s true that it is more difficult for some people to learn new languages, but there is no necessary gene, and it’s possible for everyone to learn languages if they’re committed to it. A few ways and tools to help you on your language quest include:
- Exposure- Make sure that every day you are getting some type of exposure to your new language (speaking, listening, or reading). A constant routine of experiencing the language makes the process much easier.
- Language Learning Software- Language learning software programs like Google Translate and Rosetta Stone can be helpful. They are a good supplement but not a replacement for other language learning methods.
- Use Flash Cards- Use language dictionaries to make flash cards of various words and study them regularly.
- Travel- Traveling to places where the language/languages are spoken is a good way to train your ear and help improve pronunciation and overall understanding.
- Language Courses- Inexpensive language courses with licensed instructors are frequently held at local community colleges. Sometimes formal learning is the best learning!
Although it is by no means a requirement to be bilingual, it’s always good to be aware of different languages and cultures. The U.S. is constantly becoming more diversified, so let’s all join the party!
Andrew is a graduate of McDaniel College (’13). He is also an aspiring writer and stand-up comedian. He believes that if you are passionate about something, you should go for it! Life is too short for question marks, live life to the fullest while exploring your dreams and see what happens! Andrew presently lives in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.