Benefits of Multilingualism

Complete Language And Cultural Fluency in Multiple Languages

Those who are truly multilingual, able interact comfortably in more than one language and culture have a big edge up in today's global economy. Language learning is fun only when it offers concrete socio-emotional benefits to the learner because humans are fundamentally social creatures. Gameplay scenarios mimic common interactions children have in order for them to comfortably carry out such conversations using a foreign language in real life.

Chinese Language Immersion

Multilingualism result in more flexibility, better executive functioning, rational decision making, creative problem-solving skills (Boaz Keysar) just to name a few. In fact, the benefits of true bilingualism are so profound that it changes the brain—increasing gray matter volume in the left inferior parietal cortex. Bilinguals have more gray matter in the executive control region of the brain. Studies also reveal that multilingual people can develop a learned skill faster than their monolingual peers. The demand of using more than one language increases the need for better cognitive control and flexibility, which results in an increase in the gray matter volume observable in the frontal and parietal regions of the brain. When bilingual children communicate, the languages in their brains compete with one another to be chosen.

To speak in one language, a multilingual child must choose one language and suppress the other. This calls for attention and the ability of the brain to be flexible. Multilinguals give their brains a much-needed workout that further strengthens their cognitive muscles.

Researchers have documented the positive impact of multilingualism on memory from infants to the elderly. Using another language requires learning new vocabulary sets, grammar rules and the ability to recall them at will, which explain why learning another language lead to faster learning of additional languages and deeper understanding of one’s native language.

Benefits of Multilingualism

Training List

2-3x more progress in math and reading

Training List

Higher scores on standardized tests

Training List

Increased cognitive ability (comprehension, reasoning)

Training List

Enhanced communication skills

Training List

Enhanced Memory and Recall

Training List

Better planning and problem solving

Get Ready for the Future

“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way,” - renown psycholinguist Frank Smith

Multilingualism improves one’s discipline—the inhibition function that controls or discards impulsive responses and react to stimuli based on attention and reasoning. Furthermore, the enhanced learning ability’s benefit of multilingualism extends across multiple subjects, helping children in science, writing, arts, etc.

If given the choice between knowing only language and fluently multilingual, most, if not all, would choose to be multilingual, but how do we get there?

Social Skill

With today’s accelerated economic integration, learning a foreign language has become more of a necessity than a choice. In the past five years, the demand for multilingual workers in worldwide have more than doubled, and prestigious universities and top businesses consistently prefer applicants who can speak Chinese, English as the US, Russia, and China maintain their statuses as the superpowers. In this article, we explore academic, social emotional, and career benefits of multilingualism here. 

Some argue that multilingualism is the thorough understanding of multiple languages, others claim they’re multilingual if they know enough to get around as a tourist using another language. Under either definition, approximately less than three percent of the world's population is truly multilingual.  The purpose of language is to facilitate communication and enhance interpersonal relationships. But true multilingualism extends beyond the ability to communicate, it incorporates cross-cultural awareness because language happens in the context of culture. 

According to a 2012 study, using a foreign language reduces decision-making biases because the learner must constantly search for relevance and the hidden meanings of words. As a result, multilinguals can easily appreciate the complexities of different situations and the need for in depth reasoning this enables them to be better decision makers in their language use and life in general. Studies found that children don’t have to actively speak two or more languages to demonstrate an improvement in interpersonal skills, and even exposure to multilingual environment is enough for them to build better communication skills.  Higher education institutions and employers consider multilingualism a great asset as it displays you can connect with a wide range of people. Another way to put it –multilingualism makes you future-proof. Your child’s competition, whether it’s for a spot on the team, scholarship or acceptance into their first-choice school, might be coming from halfway around the world–not be down the block from you.

Lack of practice and opportunity to use the language

Children in Europe are often multilingual because they naturally encounter multiple languages in their everyday lives. However, in other regions like the US and Asia where a single language is predominant, thus limiting opportunities to use a foreign language, parents must work extra hard for their children to be truly multilingual. After all, humans are creatures of necessity and when there’s no real need or benefit to mastering the foreign language we won’t prioritize it

Two-dimensional language learning doomed for failure

The mechanics of a language like vocabulary and grammar is only one component of language. In fact, it is only the first step. Relevant experiences and motivation are necessary to progress.

Beyond Crises: Imagining Families and Communities

Beyond Crises: Imagining Families and Communities

The recent shootings of Asian Americans and whether these will be considered hate crimes, tornadoes ravaging the Southwest and elsewhere, and fears of uncertain variants of the COVID-19 pandemic dominated the news during the writing of this piece. Crises, unfortunately, are not new to us. As educators, along with feeling deeply troubled by these, we have had a tendency to focus on what we perceive is missing or lacking in ... Read More
Please Don’t Call My Child a Third Culture Kid

Please Don’t Call My Child a Third Culture Kid

I grew up outside my parents’ culture. They migrated to the U.S. from India in the early 1970s and I was born in New York City at the end that of that decade. However, they, and I, were plain ol’ “immigrants,” first- and second-generation respectively. While, of course, migrants who plan on repatriating are usually called “expats,” and those who consider their move permanent are usually called “immigrants,” it is ... Read More
How to Build a Culture of Inclusivity Starting With Your Kids

How to Build a Culture of Inclusivity Starting With Your Kids

I’m a parent of three children, ages 8, 10, and 13, with mixed identities. We’re Brown first- and second-generation Americans descended from Indian and Pakistani immigrants.

As a result, I’ve been keenly aware of how my kids are relating to their identities as they engage in their own paths of self-discovery.

Each has grappled in their own way with understanding how they “fit” into their surroundings. They code-switch and accentuate aspects of ... Read More
Fighting the Stigma: Mental Health among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Fighting the Stigma: Mental Health among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Although the US has made progress in raising awareness of mental health and normalizing conversations about the topic, a great deal of stigma remains around mental illness and poor mental health, and many still face barriers to accessing services and supports.

Among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, these issues are often shrouded by silence and shame, allowing misconceptions and minimization of mental health concerns to thrive.

But AAPIs are not ... Read More
How I Learned To Talk To My Filipino Mom About My Mental Health

How I Learned To Talk To My Filipino Mom About My Mental Health

It can be hard to talk with family members about issues like depression and anxiety. It's especially difficult for the adult children of immigrant parents. NPR's Malaka Gharib has this story of a Filipino-American woman working to change that.

MALAKA GHARIB, BYLINE: Twenty-eight-year-old Ryan Tanep (ph) is from Virginia Beach, Va. Her parents both came from the Philippines. Growing up, she often felt like she was living in two worlds - ... Read More
Study: Asians Perceived To Lack Charisma

Study: Asians Perceived To Lack Charisma

Why do we see fewer Asian Americans in senior management positions? In the first study on Asian Americans and perceptions of leadership, researchers found that Asians are seen as having less charisma when compared to their white counterparts — a trait that's often synonymous with leadership in Western societies. Host Michel Martin discusses the findings of this new study with lead author, Thomas Sy, of the University of California, Riverside ... Read More
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
26 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
26
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x