Bilingualism vs Multilingualism – What Are the Benefits?

  • When we refer to or talk about proficiency, we are laying emphasis or referring to an individual or person’s ability to communicate in a language.
  • Those who can speak more than one language do not experience the language barrier when they pay a visit to some countries of the world where a different language is spoken.
  • Knowing a second language or more can give you an edge if you want to apply for jobs like Peace Corps or become a Foreign Service officer in the foreign mission.

Bilingualism and Multilingualism today is an interdisciplinary and complex field of a study among the scholars. To understand in simple terms as self-evident from the prefixes [bi-and multi] multilingualism phenomena are purely devoted to the study of production, processing, and comprehension of two [and more than two languages] respectively.

What’s the difference between bilingualism and multilingualism?

Today, it is common that once people can communicate effectively in the English language [either as a native or non-native] they quickly take on learning another language.
As adjectives, the difference between bilingual and multilingual is that bilingual is having the ability to speak two languages while multilingual is pertaining to multiple languages.

Some individuals either under staying in more than two or more places during their early stage in life can catch-up with the grace or ability to express themselves in more than a language while other people study the language. Naturally, language is part of us as a human beings. We cannot be separated from it. No language is inferior or superior. Every language is equal in my assessment.

Nobody is too poor not to be able to have a language of his own. No man without a language. No nation without a language. No tribe or individual without a language. Language is a natural property of every living soul. Those without language have natural or artificial challenges or problem that needs to be corrected. We use language for so many things in society. The language also means a lot among the nations of the world. Our languages do unite or differentiate us as individuals or as a nation.

As a noun, bilingual is a person or individual who is having the ability to use two languages to express or communicate with. This is characterized by the grace or ability to use two languages. In simple terms,  the ability to use effectively two different languages.

Multilingual is about multiple languages [or of a person] able to communicate fluently in multiple languages in society. Multilingualism-is the use of more than one language either by a person, an individual speaker or by a group of speakers. People who speak several languages are also called polyglots.

Today, it is acceptable or believed that those who have the ability or divine grace to speak multiple languages as outnumber monolingual speakers [those who speaks only a language]

As a result of technology and civilization, access to information facilitated by the internet, people are more exposed to multiple languages. This is becoming more possible. People involved in global trading are sometimes forced to learn more languages required in transactions.

In fact, people who know more than one language have been recently reported to be more adapting to language learning when compared to monolinguals. Also, multilingualism is advantageous for people who desired to participate in globalization and cultural openness.

Monolingual – is the ability to speak only one language proficiently. Most children have proficiency in their mother tongue.

Bilingualism – is the ability to speak two languages proficiently, though not necessarily perfectly.

Multilingualism – is the ability to speak many languages proficiently [though not necessarily perfectly] the use of more than one language by an individual. When we refer to or talk about proficiency, we are laying emphasis or referring to an individual or person’s ability to communicate in a language. Times, people also call this fluency, although the two terms have a different meaning to those with linguistic training.

Benefits of Bilingualism or Multilingualism:

Really, from improved brain performance to strong professional or business opportunities, being bilingual and multilingual has so many advantages over the use of one language.

Today, it is common that once people can communicate effectively in the English language [either as a native or non-native] they quickly take on learning another language. Someone quoted:

‘’To have another language is to possess a second soul’’

Bilingualism can slow the effect of old age in people. There is a lifelong benefit of being bilingual in life.

Some of the cogent benefits of Bilingualism is:

  1. Ability to speak and communicate with more people worldwide. Those who can speak more than one language do not experience the language barrier when they pay a visit to some countries of the world where a different language is spoken. For instant, if you study and learn Spanish it will help gain access without communication problems when traveled to some continents in the world.
  2. Those who have the skill or ability to express themselves in other languages in addition to their mother tongue can understand the culture of other people in the world. Language is part of the culture. Your language portraits your culture away.Someone’s critical thinking skills do improve as one learns to View the world through a different more cultural lens.In that wise, you can become less of a tourist when you visit other cultures and communicate with more people and feel more at home, traveling like a native. That shows the power of language.
  3. Keep  the Brain in shape. The more you engage the brain, the more it performs or function effectively. An interesting advantage of studying another language is that it keeps your brain very sharp, creating new visions, better pathways. This is most cases enables language learners to quickly switch between two tasks or cognitive functions. Also, studies and reports show that speaking two languages will reduce your chances of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s diseases that are common in some parts of the world.  Also, research  shows that studying languages can improve your memory and slow age-related forgetfulness greatly!
  4. Getting ahead in the workplace. Today, big corporations and international organizations do love to employ workers who can speak or communicate in other languages apart from the English language. This is one of the benefits of Bilingualism. Those who can speak more than two or three languages in the workplace do have added advantage.According to MIT economist, Albert Saiz, proficiency in Spanish will pay off with a whopping $51,000 more in your bank account over a lifetime. For an instant, only about 20% of Americans speak Spanish, which makes it an-in-demand language for the American’s job market.The employers of labor are searched for highly impressive resumes and being bilingual or multilingual is a strong and perfect way to make your CV stand out and have a sterling edge among others in the highly competitive labor market.Therefore, if you desire to be bilingual in Spanish or other languages so as to advance your skills and chances in the job market or wish  to take up the language for the cultural experience or exposure, there is an abundance of knowledge to be acquired or gained if you can endeavor to pursue the valiant task of pursuing fluency. Be well assured, your efforts will pay off in a big way. Indeed, learning other languages is like you have discovered your second soul in life.
  5. The ability to make rational decisions or think well. Speaking another language does help to make more rational decisions as individuals.  People with more than one language do enjoy the ability to focus on the information rather than their own emotions or belief. Other language study aids the ability to think straight at times.
  6. Speaking another language gives a new perspective to life generally. With the study of more than one language, you will understand life better. Speaking other languages will allow you to interact with different people and understand the nuances of other cultures around. This might lead to additional opportunities to make friends and be well exposed to different hobbies and different styles of life.
  7. Knowing a second language or more can give you an edge if you want to apply for jobs like Peace Corps or become a Foreign Service officer in the foreign mission. Knowing a second language can open up new career opportunities. Bilingualism can improve your competitiveness in the job market.
  8. Bilingualism can slow the effect of old age in people. There is a lifelong benefit of being bilingual in life. For instance, the cognitive flexibility, [is the ability to adapt to unfamiliar or unexpected circumstance]. Tends to reduce as we grow in an age in life, It is discovered that those who have the advantage of speaking a second language can block easily that decline or at least delay it significantly.

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Smart Oyejide

Smart Oyedotun Oyejide is a multi-gifted writer, motivational speaker, best-selling author and business consultant. He is a fellow of the British society of Commerce (FBSC) and full member, Institute of Management Consultants (MIMC). He is the CEO of Unlimited Wealth Solutions
http://livingwellwithwealth.com

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