BILINGUAL PLUS

There are 6,809 distinct languages spoken in the world, and although that is still not a definite number, it is listed in a book "Steven R Anderson pg 3 ) of the Linguistic Society of America. Steven r Anderson says the number is taken from the most extensive catalog of the worlds languages, “The Ethnologue Organization. The current data in the ethnologue shows the number of languages as 7413. Yet despite all these languages in the world, many people can only speak but one language, and many others choose to learn a second or third language as adults. Some learn one from childhood due to a diverse cultural background. Ironically, it doesn’t matter when one learns a second language, whether in childhood or during adulthood. The benefits of learning a second language are many and also improve overall brain health.

The most noticeable advantage of learning more than one language, is the improvement in cognitive skills and divergent thinking. Such as the ability to distinguish between important information, from what is not. According to cognitive neuroscientist, Ellen Bialystok, “If you gave 5- and 6-year-olds language problems to solve, monolingual and bilingual children knew, pretty much, the same amount of language. But on one question, there was a difference, when asked all the children if a certain illogical sentence was grammatically correct: “Apples grow on noses.” The monolingual children couldn’t answer. They’d say, “That’s silly” and they’d stall. But the bilingual children would say, in their own words, “It’s silly, but it’s grammatically correct.(Ellen Bialystik) “The Bilingual Advantage”, by Claudia Dreifus May 30 2011, New York Times.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/31/science/31conversation.html?_r=1

Ellen Bialystok also explains that the regular use of two languages appears to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. “This didn’t mean that the bilinguals didn’t have Alzheimer’s. It meant that as the disease took root in their brains, they were able to continue functioning at a higher level. They could cope with the disease for longer.”(Ellen Bialystok)

Employment

When it comes to employment, there is an increasing demand for bilingual employees. In most job postings 'bilingual’ is now one of the requirements. Most jobs tend to state “bilingual preferred”, “bilingual needed” or “bilingual a plus”. Those jobs that do not state a requirement of being bilingual tend to offer an applicant who does apply and happens to be bilingual, a possible chance of being hired before a monolingual applicant, or a higher pay.



This is because the bilingual applicant can communicate with a more diverse clientele than a monolingual one, and is therefore considered to be an asset to the company and a money saver. As opposed to the company hiring two monolingual employees who each speak a different language. Thus the company would rather hire just one applicant who speaks both the languages of their main clientele. For example, if a company’s two main clientele are of an Asian background, and a Spanish background, and the company is looking to hire a sales person, the company would much rather hire one sales person who can communicate both in Spanish and in the Asian language, than hire two separate individuals who each speak one of the languages. Therefore saving the company money.

Higher Pay

A job posting on Monster for a position in Miami, FL (A city that is very rich in multiculturalism) in search of a Bilingual Administrative Assistant offers $15 to $18 an hour. The applicant can be a high school graduate or equivalent and have 2 to 5yrs experience. The Required Skills of this particular job state that: “If you do not have these required skills, please do not apply” “Bilingual: Excellent English/Spanish verbal and written communication a must”.

Another company also in Miami, FL in search of an Administrative Assistant as well, wants an applicant with a little bit more education (some college), the same amount of experience of 2 to 5yrs but lists a long list of skills and requirements, “(from the ability to operate all equipment necessary to perform the job, to strong inter-personal communication skills specifically relating to stress management, people management and conflict management, and so forth. This job offers to pay $2 less at $14 -$16 an hour.

Comparing these two similar job postings, the skills and competence required for the bilingual position are less but the pay is about $2 more an hour. This is because the employer believes that a bilingual applicant would already possess all the competences required for that position granted a 2 to 5 yr experience period. Yet when the required skills are compared, the skills for the bilingual position seem to be mainly Bilingual: Excellent English/Spanish verbal and written communication a must. While the non-bilingual job, requires a longer list of skills, thus a seemingly heavier work load, but a lesser pay.

Academics and Comprehension


When it comes to comprehension and academics, people often wonder if children exposed to two languages get confused or fall behind in school. According to a story covered by a reporter named Gretchen Cuda-Kroen of the (National Public Radio)(NPR) in Cleveland, Janet Werker a psychologist at the University of British Columbia explains this stereotype Weker says “There is absolutely no evidence that bilingual acquisition leads to confusion, and there is no evidence that bilingual acquisition leads to delay”. In the same story Ellen Bialystok a Psychologist from the university of Toronto explains that a bilingual speaker is fully aware of what language to use and when to use it. She says “The reason lies in the way the bilingual mind uses language. In other words, no matter what language a person is speaking at the moment, both languages are active in the brain. The evidence is very dramatic. Even if you are in a context that is utterly monolingual, where you think there is absolutely no reason to think about Chinese or Spanish or French, it is part of the activated network that's going on in your brain”.NPRBialystok also says "every time a bilingual person is speaking, both languages are active in the brain, and this serves as an exercise that strengthens the brain". This shows that someone who is bilingual can find it easier to learn a third or even a fourth language much faster and easier than a monolingual person can.

Culture

When it comes to cultural advantages, a bilingual person has a cultural advantage over a monolingual person because they can read news papers, literature, watch movies or listen to music in a second language and thus gain a wider perspective and exposure to two different cultures, as opposed to just one.

Government

A debate on whether a government should be considered as bilingual or not, lies in that government’s constitution. For example in Canada, the official languages are English and French and both languages are considered equal according to Canada's constitution.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Official_bilingualism_in_Canada (not an official source)
While here in America, Standard English is the language Americans are required to speak. For example, if a foreign citizen would like to become an American citizen, they are first required to have the ability to understand and comprehend the English language (A guide to naturalization pg 25)Applicants must demonstrate an understanding of the English language, including an ability to read, write, and speak simple words and phrases in ordinary usage in the English language” . Ironically in the social security office, forms are available in more languages than just English (source: walk in). The DMV across the country also offers driving tests in more than just the English language. The drivers’ handbook for instance is printed in, Russian, Tagalog, Korean, Spanish, Vietnamese etc.

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If a driver takes a driving test in another language because they cannot properly comprehend english, they would then not manage to read the road signs and warning signs that are written in the English language. Road signs and information on highways should thus be in other languages other than english as well.

Conclusion

No matter where one is in the world, if the persons first language is not English, they mostly tend to potray a desire to learn the English language. English happens to be the first choice of a second language in most countries, as it is mainly taught in schools (source: experience) Is English therefore ‘the’ Universal language?(source:a known myth.) That would be another topic. Learning a second language regardless of ones first language has many advantages, therefore everyone should attempt to learn at least one more language.