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Frank Smith, a psycholinguist who was acknowledged for his contributions in linguistics and cognitive psychology, once said, “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” Today, the world is full of different languages and cultures who work with one another in a beautiful way. It is important for it to stay that way. The more globalized and advanced the world becomes, the more important it is to be able to grow with it and know more than one language because that knowledge will open up numerous job opportunities, establish connections with different cultures, and benefit the brain.
Throughout the course of time, there have been beliefs that babies who were exposed to more than one language would end up confused, unintelligent, or schizophrenic. These myths have, without a surprise, been debunked. People have also tried to prove the idea that there are negative effects of bilingual education. After years of research and studies, once again, to no surprise, no negative effects of bilingual education have been found.
In today’s society, the ability to speak a second language has become extremely valuable. “Taking the time to learn a second language demonstrates a strong work ethic that is attractive to any employer. ” Studies have shown that people who are bilingual earn 5%-20% more money per hour than people who only speak one language. Since bilingual employees dominate this very useful skill, it can help increase revenue and some companies will pay them more. Being able to speak a second language will also increase your job options. Numerous job positions list bilingualism as a requirement. Since that requirement eliminates everyone who is not bilingual, it means that there is less competition for those specific jobs. Many jobs like those in the field of healthcare, customer service, sales representative, or public relations are looking for employees who can speak more than one language. By learning a second language, a person’s career choice and job opportunities are much more numerous than those of a person who only speaks one language.
The earth is full of many different cultures which, together, make it a beautifully diverse world. It has been proven that Being bilingual can influence the way people see the world and describe it. Dr. Panos Athanasopoulos, an expert in linguistics and bilingualism, says “There’s an inextricable link between language, culture and cognition”. Many studies support this by showing that people who speak different languages receive higher scores on tests that measure “open-mindedness” and “cultural sensitivity”. The ability to speak more than one language and connect to different cultures can also help people more fully connect to a certain culture and understand it in a more natural way. If someone is interested in the arts of another culture of people who speak a particular language, learning their language is a great way to gain a better understanding of their culture. By learning a second language, a person will become more cultured and open to the diversity of the world.
Being bilingual makes the brain a stronger muscle. Just like any other muscle, the brain likes to exercise and being bilingual is a perfect way for it to do so. By exercising the brain with bilingualism, the brain sees a large amount of benefits. The ability to switch between two languages at the snap of a finger is a part of a larger ability of the brain called executive function. This means bilingual people can pay attention to something without being distracted and can switch from one task to another more easily than someone who is monolingual. Researchers have also found that actively using two languages has an effect on dementia. There was a study done in Canada on patients with Alzheimer’s and “a group of bilingual adults performed on par with a group of monolingual adults in terms of cognitive tests and daily functioning. But when researchers looked at the two groups’ brains, they found evidence of brain atrophy that was five to seven years more advanced in the bilingual group. In other words, the adults who spoke two languages were carrying on longer at a higher level despite greater degrees of damage.” Bilingualism also affects school performance and engagement. Wayne Thomas and Virginia Collier, two professors at George Mason University in Virginia, have spent the last 30 years gathering evidence on the benefits of bilingual education. “In studies covering six states and 37 districts, they have found that, compared with students in English-only classrooms or in one-way immersion, dual-language students have somewhat higher test scores and also seem to be happier in school. Attendance is better, behavioral problems fewer, parent involvement higher.” Whether the benefits are small or large, the advantages discovered and studied in the brain that bilingualism gives a person are worth it.
The world is growing and becoming more complex by the second. It is advancing at rapid speeds and the people of Earth need to grow along with it. Being bilingual is one of, if not the best, way to grow with the world. The gift of bilingualism will open up numerous job opportunities, establish connections with different cultures, and benefit the brain. These skills will impact people’s career, social life, and give long-term life benefits. When people become bilingual, the world takes one step closer to becoming a world where everyone can share interests, celebrate differences and diversity, and live in unity with one other.
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