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

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2-3x more progress in math and reading

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Higher scores on standardized tests

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Increased cognitive ability (comprehension, reasoning)

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Enhanced communication skills

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Enhanced Memory and Recall

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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.

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13 thoughts on “Benefits of Multilingualism”

  1. Clarissa Shen says:

    That’s true. Multilingualism isn’t just knowing the bare minimum to survive in a foreign country. It’s understanding the cultural beliefs.

    1. amelia says:

      Indeed. It’s a soft skill that make you connect with not only people but also the culture itself.

    2. Ben Shen says:

      Indeed, so by your realization, you should practice your Chinese more often to become truly multilangual!

  2. Bianca says:

    I agree with all of this, multilingualism helps in so many ways, and these 6 key skills are crucial to being successful! I can’t see why empathy would be important though….

    1. amelia says:

      Empathy is important is because it’s an ability that makes us know how to respond to other’s feelings and thoughts in a better way. And it’s also key to prosocial behaviors. To sum up, there is no way we can live in a better world where everyone is considerate and kind to others without empathy.

    2. Ben Shen says:

      If you agree, then live up to your agreement! Start by practice your Chinese!

  3. Bianca says:

    I do not think that multilingualism can possibly help this much. It is just unbelievable.

  4. Ben says:

    I do not think using countries and their political status quo to illustrate the importance of learning a specific language is a proper way of convincing your readers to pick up the said language. It could back fire on your readers.

    1. Caitlyn says:

      Dear Ben,
      First, thank you for participating in our discussion on multilingualism. You are one of the <13% of the world population who’s trilingual, and we would love to hear your personal tips on becoming truly multilingual. This article is in no way political, and the reference to countries’ status/power is only in the context of language learning--that it creates an increased opportunity to use those countries’ languages. On the flipside of the coin, the hurdle to learning a second language for citizens of English-speaking countries are often greater when everyone they meet can communicate with them in their native tongue, thus removing the motivation and need to master any foreign languages. Human beings are creatures of necessity. We can see a clear disparity in foreign language acquisition between American and European children.

  5. Ben says:

    too much words and long paragraph on this website, not intuitive enough and can easily make your readers loose interest.

  6. Ben says:

    BTW, I’m tri-langual 🙂

  7. Ben says:

    學習另一個語言很重要, 同樣的, 網站的表達也很重要.

  8. Ben says:

    言語は世界への扉です

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