Multilingualism

Multilingualism is the use of two or more languages. Nowadays, the vast majority of the Earth’s population is bilingual; more and more people speak at least three languages. To be considered multilingual, you do not have to have full proficiency in all languages- just enough proficiency to be able to carry your daily activities in all languages you know. Many people do not have full proficiency in their first, second and third language but their proficiency in a certain language varies when compared to the proficiency of the other language they know.

Benefits of Multilingualism

1. Increased communication skills. The more languages you know, the more you could communicate with others in their native languages. Furthermore, you can as well search for information in more languages.
2. Better understanding of the culture. By speaking a certain language, you become more and more familiar with the culture. You start to understand the references made in the particular language, you begin to understand the history of the country and you become more familiar with the traditions.
3. Learning new languages becomes easier. By the time you have learned your third language, learning a fourth language becomes easier. You already are able to make connections between words that sound and are written similarly in the new language and the language you already know. Therefore, you need to make only a few adjustments to the new language. If you already are proficient in French, learning Spanish will be easier and vice-versa. If you speak German, learning Dutch will be easier because the languages sound familiar. The same thing is if you already speak Russian, you will understand most of the Slavic languages and if you speak one of the Slavic languages, you will understand any language from the group. For example, I am Bulgarian and every time I find myself in a group of Russians, I just listen to the conversation and respond in a combination of Bulgarian, Russian or English.
4. More employability, more money. In today’s business world, many companies either have branches worldwide or work with clients from abroad. Therefore, the more languages an employee speaks, the higher pay he/she receives. Furthermore, the more languages one knows, the higher his/her job perspectives are because he/she could work in various countries where the language is spoken.
5. Finally, the last and perhaps the most important benefit is later signs of Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. Scientific studies have shown that as bilingual people tend to switch more often between the two languages they know, the signs of dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease,on average, become visible about five years later than their monolingual counterparts.
6. Be better problem-solver. It is shown that bilingual or multilingual people are better problem solvers than those who are monolingualists. This could be because multilingual people constantly switch between languages and have a broader access to information than their monolingual counterparts.

If you found the article interesting, you can check the following:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2013/11/multilingualism
http://www.hanen.org/Helpful-Info/Articles/Bilingualism-in-Young-Children–Separating-Fact-fr.aspx
http://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/bilingual-advantage-aging-brain

http://www.wired.com/2012/05/the-benefits-of-being-bilingual/
http://www.multilingualchildren.org/getting_started/pro_con.html

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