Multilingualism is the phenomenon of speaking and understanding more than one language. In the United States of America, the Act of Bilingual Education was adopted in 1968 providing federal funding to encourage local school districts to try approaches incorporating native-language instruction. ???? Bilingual education has many advantages in lifeit provides better job opportunities, more effective communication, raises cultural awareness and develops skills. ?? Therefore, it is essential to introduce bilingual education early on at school.
Speaking another language is seen as a sign of more educated and intelligent person, giving greater access to higher-paying jobs while also broadening job opportunities. For a bilingual person, there are more job opportunities, they can change jobs more easily, and often their jobs are higher paid. A study shows that bilinguals have more analytic orientation to language and they do better at school by having higher test scores. In many areas, like retail and sales, knowing another language is an enormous plus, and usually bilinguals are favored by employers. With the spread of online industries, many businesses are becoming global and multicultural which make employers hire multilingual employees to broaden their horizon. Bilinguals can communicate with more costumers making them a greater asset to the company. A report released by New American Economy (NAE) in 2017 showed that over the past five years there has been a growing demand for bilingual employees. While in 2010 around 240 000 job postings targeted bilinguals, the number grew up to 630 000 by 2015. As it turned out in the same report, the fastest growth in bilingual listings from 2010 to 2015 was for so-called high prestige jobs, a category including financial managers, editors, and industrial engineers. (https://www.newamericaneconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/NAE_Bilingual_V9.pdf) Bilinguals definitely have advantages on the job market and they can often communicate with their employers and customers better than monolinguals.
Bilingual education allows to communicate more effectively, widely, and makes people more creative. Language is strongly connected with thoughts, meaning that bilinguals have divergent thinking and higher verbal intelligence. A study between Nigerian and Welsh monolinguals and bilinguals found that the latter were significantly better in the verbal creativity tests (Okoh, N. (1980)). Not only makes bilingual education kids more creative in language use but it gives them another personality. Almost all multilinguals agree that speaking another language gives you a new personality and often a new way of seeing life and problems. There are not a lot of studies have made to find out how and why do we change when we speak another language. Susan Ervin-Tripp conducted a survey where she gave Japanese-American women sentences to complete and the endings were very different in different languages. To the sentence When my wishes conflict with my family, a woman’s Japanese response was ..it’s a time of great unhappiness while she finished the same sentence in English I do what I want. Speaking more than one language, gives you parts of that languages culture, ethics and believes. It is unexplainable why do we change the endings of our sentences in different languages or why do we turn a little bit more passionate and energetic while speaking Spanish butn remain silent and restrained while speaking Japanese but almost every multilingual agrees that they have as many personalities as many languages they speak. Speaking another language also expands your communication circle and allows to talk with more people from different cultures. Communicating directly with different cultures helps bilinguals to communicate more freely, develop their thinking and creativity but also accept cultural differences.
Bilinguals are more aware of cultural differences and have higher social and emotional skills. Metacultural awarenessunderstanding of the distinctiveness of cultures, and diversity towards cultural diversity, is very important and it is highly essential to be tolerant towards other cultures, their traditions, and beliefs. With higher cultural awareness amongst bilinguals, they have more knowledge, understand feelings and behavior better, and are more tolerant towards others. Comfort with diversity and different cultures is becoming more and more important in the world and we should do everything to raise the next generation to be more tolerant and culturally aware.
Bilingualism has a significant positive effect on children’s linguistic, cognitive and educational development. Speaking two or more languages is associated with increased abilities to concentrate, solve problems, and focus. Therefore, bilingualism changes the mindset and brain activity. Being multilingual is also associated with better mental flexibility and attention skills since they need to constantly pay attention when to speak what language. The study amongst group of monolingual and bilingual 10-year old children from six Montreal French schools were administered verbal and nonverbal intelligence tests showed that bilinguals performed better and they seemed to have better mental flexibility and diversified set of mental abilities. Also, they performed better at school.
Considering all the advantages mentioned above, America should advance its bilingual education programs and introduce it more actively in the elementary school. The author of Teach Knowledge, Not Mental Skills brought out how he heard a Lebanese man complaining that the average high school graduate in his homeland can speak fluently in Arabic, French, and English while Americans are mostly monolingual and that is seen as a negative sign amongst foreigners. Multilingualism is highly advanced in Europe and in most parts of Asia, but United States is largely monolingual. The European Commission survey in 2006 shows that only about 15-20 percent of Americans consider themselves bilingual, compared to 56 percent of Europeans. The Arabic professor Mahmoud Al-Batal said that the inability to speak a foreign language makes it difficult for Americans to compete globally on a linguistic and cultural level. It would be very beneficial for America to advance the bilingual education system and help young children get better social and cognitive skills and therefore prepare them for future helping them.
Bilingualism shapes minds for lifetime and gives many advantages, including more job opportunities, cultural and communicational benefits, and developed skills. America should approach to multilingualism as a good tool that helps to develop its country and people.
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