Learning second language a top priority
It is not uncommon to be walking down a Houston street and overhear a conversation carried out in a language other than English. Considering that there are so many people from all over the world who live in this city, that conversation’s language could range from Spanish to Vietnamese.
As the world becomes more transparent, people from ever more diverse backgrounds will immigrate to the U.S. Being bilingual will become increasingly beneficial as times progresses and globalization reaches maturity.
The benefits of being bilingual are many: better cognitive skills and development, particularly early in childhood, and higher wages as working adults are the two most impressive benefits.
The addition of a second language also alters the way a child’s brain is structured. According to research by Andrea Mechelli at the Institute of Neurology, London, "the bilingual brain develops more densley, giving it an advantage in various abilites and skills."
Those skills and abilites range from higher IQs to better performances in math and science when compared to monolinguals. Other studies have shown that, overall, bilinguals have higher salaries than those who only speak one language. Many employers give preference to those who are bilingual, making those with second-language skills more competitive than their counterparts.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal chronicled how some of the nation’s top CEO’s are sending their children to Mandarin tutors. Some parents said that the Chinese dialect will become the "language of business" within their child’s generation. Some even organize play parties where the young bilinguals playtime is conducted entirely in Chinese.
In entertainment, many artists are starting to release songs in both English and Spanish. These artists realize that they generate even more money by catering to a larger demographic. They can open up a whole new fan base in other countries.
BeyoncÈ, Avril Lavinge and Jennifer Lopez are just a few of the artists that have released Spanish-language songs. Even American professional sports leagues are impacted by an influx of international players who bring in fans from all over the world. The worldwide popularity of these stars creates a need for more bilingual sports coverage.
Despite all of the conflict in the world, we are becoming more and more impacted by each other’s presence. Those who know how to speak more than their native language will have undoubtedly have an upper hand in the future.
Those who live in Houston, an international city, know more than most how beneficial it is to be able to communicate in a language other than English.
Future job seekers should make it a point to be able to put at least two languages on their resume. And although it is easier to learn another language as a child, it’s never too late.
Hawkins, a communication junior, can be reached via [email protected]