Language is essential to life. It fills our brains, helps us express our thoughts, ideas and allows us to communicate with others. And, I don’t imagine what life would be if we don’t have language. I am thinking how are we able to name things, ask questions, and express our opinions without language? As a matter of fact, if we have language, is it also possible to have two languages? Yes, it is possible, in fact it is called bilingualism.
By this definitions, I conclude that I’m also a bilingual person because I am able to speak two languages such as Tagalog and English. I grew up learning Tagalog at home and become exposed to English when I entered private schools because my parents wants me to become good in English where private schools used it as their medium of instruction. I also learn it by watching English movies, listening to English songs, and reading English books. On my way on my studies, I meet friends who are also bilingual, where some can use Tagalog and Bikol, Tagalog and Ilokano, and the likes. Then, I realize that there are many opportunities waiting for me if I know not only Tagalog but also English or other languages or in short you are lucky if you are bilingual. It is because Bilingual people hold big guns in this world. It gives us a huge advantage when it comes to communication, travel, work, and love. If you’re monolingual, that world has clearer limits. Why? Because if I only knew Tagalog as my language I am not able to communicate with people who don’t understand Tagalog; I can be lost and isolated. My ideas will be useless if I can’t share it with others and I don’t have the opportunity to meet friends outside the Tagalog Language. But the questions are does being bilingual really a must? Does it really help our country specifically our economy? Does it make us contented and happy or more connected in life? There are many benefits of being one. And, we can see that there are billions of people who are learning new language to be inclined and connected with others which will bring our country in to prosperity. If our President can only speak a Davaoeño language how he is able to be the President of ASEAN and connect with other President around the world where English serves as their window to connect with each other. Here in the Philippines, it’s rare to find a Filipino who speaks only one language. Most people are bilingual. Many are even fortunate to be multilingual. How? Today, learning languages is very easy because of the technology which causes children/teenagers to imitates there actors/ actresses they idolized from the movie they’ve watch and the songs they’ve hear. There are also universities and colleges who offers second language learning and they really practice English as a second language because this is the universal language in which everyone could understand.
But does being bilingual sharpen our brain? Does it makes us more intelligent than other think about it? Or does bilingualism affects cognitive development? I think we can answer these questions depending on how we perceive and understand the meaning of bilingualism. According to Chomskyan rationalism, language is innate and actualized in contact with environment. Language is seen as one of the cognitive functions, analogous to structurally autonomous organs of the mind. In this case, differences in intelligence of people would be a hereditary matter, and bilingualism would not have any effect in cognitive development. (Jensen, 1980). The same is true of theories of general intelligence and Piagetian operational theory that give a marginal role to language in cognitive development, and where thought drives language. Here bilingualism would not have any effect on cognition. This only shows that being bilingual has nothing to do with our cognitive development because it is just an advantage in many aspects. But according to Lewelling (1991) thinks that there is a strong link between the students’ cognitive development, level of proficiency in the second language and their academic performance. One of the areas where bilinguals are more successful than monolinguals is meta-linguistics that is the ability to think flexibly and abstractly about language. So performance should be high on perceptual and classification tasks (Bialystok, 2001).
So, why still go being bilingual? What are the other benefits of it? (1) Being bilingual has positive effects on the brain. Studies show that being bilingual has many cognitive benefits. According to research, speaking a second language can mean that you have a better attention span and can multi-task better than monolinguals. I agree that if a person know other languages it means that he/she is intelligent because they can easily and constantly switch one language to another which is not easy and they also tend to adjust changes in the environment better which also shows that they are also socially inclined person. (2) Bilingualism gives you the educational advantage. Many studies show that those who speak a second language are more likely to be less distracted and more focused on tasks. The other proof is that, students especially in college who are able to speak English, Spanish or other language are more likely to attain high grades because they are able to express their thoughts and ideas in class without the fear of being scolded by teacher of the wrong grammar that they may utter, they are more likely of make good reports, paper works and projects because they have the ability to write and share everything in their mind using right words and they are tapped by their deans and chairman because they see a potential in you and they may bring you to seminars and workshop to sharpen you and they expect so much from you. If you are good in English you are excellent. (3) When you speak two languages, you can actually speak three. So if you have learned a second language already, then learning a third means transferring those skills over would be that easy because you already have the foundation and the basis. When I am communicating and talking with my friends who are also bilinguals I could say that we actually understand each other, we share lot of things, and we knew what are we up to. I also tend to learn and mix their language to mine which I best expresses my thoughts and feelings towards them or other things. By this, I am able to practice how my brain works flexibly and how I am able to multitask things by combining different language which is also fun and challenging. (4) Language broadens your perspective through “linguistic relativity.” A bilingual like me isn’t just learn English as my second language just to learn proper word choice and correct grammar but I also gain knowledge and learn something about the society and culture by communicating with other people with the different or same languages. This also broaden my horizons and bring me closer to people of all races and nationalities. Like, I am able to talk to Americans, Canadians and the likes because I know how to speak English which serves as our spring for us to connect with each other. The more languages we learn, the closer we are with others rather than citizens of our own country; the more friends the more ideas and knowledge you will learn. (5) You get to really appreciate bilingual content. I actually appreciate those movies and songs with two languages because I know how it plays not like others who are irritated hearing those kinds of sound. I find it greater and interesting when I pair and combine both my languages which is for me is cool and trendy. (6) Being bilingual means you can raise bilingual kids. I don’t have kids but I believe that in the future I should pass on my languages to my own children so they can reap the benefits of being bilingual too. I will give them the best start in life and raise them being bilingual form birth so they can enjoy the beauty and benefits of being bilingual. And, I believe my kids can pass it also to their kids and can passed through generations. There are kids who grew up being naturally bilingual who are better with convergent thinking means that your brain is better at giving the one, right answer, and the latter means your brain is better at producing a diversity of possible correct answers, and later-in-life bilinguals are better with divergent thinking. I would like to expose my future kids in learning new languages because kids have this will able to interpret another people intentions better by seeing things from their perspective. (7) I think before I speak. Learning new languages helps the brain stay healthy throughout life because the ideas does not stuck on brain. Before I utter things I used to think of the proper language that I’d be using in the particular group of people because there will be an instances that they may find you more conceited if you speak English in their front where you are in the province. (8) Break the ice. This is not being conceited but we cannot hide the fact that if you interact with people in your provinces they’re going to respect and appreciate the language than you do. They will be more interested to hear the language from you and thinks that you are highly educated because they think that English is the language of intelligent people. (9) Speaking more than one language makes you more open minded. It because they have more than one view to the world. It really helps me think and make sense of the world and I can even influence the way I see and describe it. And, some say that when you speak two different languages you may feel that you are having two different personalities. This is somewhat true to me because I can describe the world in the different perspective. Sometimes, I act depending on the language I’m using. I feel more confident when I use English and feel that you are more clever than the others that’s why I suggest things which are more really helpful. (10) It also makes people bicultural (or multicultural if you speak more than two languages), I’m not afraid to travel because I know what language to use, I will not be lost because I know someone can understand me if ask directions and places in the particular country. When I travel I get to know new cultures and people. (11) Languages are highly valued in the workplace. It has an employment benefits or job opportunities depending of course to the languages you speak. Why? It is because communication with each other in the workplace is important, some companies considered bilingualism a high priority. That’s why when I apply I always put additional languages in my resume because I think it added plus point to better have chance at getting the job. In a work place, you will meet different races that’s why language is very crucial. (12) Being Bilingual has been linked to health benefits. Researches recently found that there is growing evidence to suggest that bilingualism can delay the onset of Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease for example. Other benefits of being bilingual include things such as a faster stroke recovery, lower stress levels, and delay many effects of old to name a few. As of now, I don’t experienced yet the health benefits of it I only know that it helps me being a person who needs to communicate with others. (13) You are not the minority if you are bilingual. Most people, speaks more than one language on a daily basis because of the combination of many races. Like, Americans marries Filipina and the likes. Bilingualism is actually considered the norm and it is in the culture, whether we like it or not people will always learn and learn new languages especially today where everything is possible to happen. Everyone should have the chance to learn a second language and reap the benefits of being bilingual. In general, there are two main reasons that have been given to explain the positive effects of being bilingual. However, all things here in the world have its advantages and disadvantages, its ups and down, and its positive and negative. Some scholars have found some negative influence of bilingualism, especially in academic success. Being one of the bilingual, I didn’t see and experienced having difficulties or negative effect of it to me because in fact these really helps me a lot. Well, I don’t know maybe in other people they experience a delay in there lexical acquisition in their class discussion and group activities. It is maybe because of their cultural differences and traditional values that may affect them. But I can say that it depends on the person on how he/she will able to use it.
With this negative effects, I still see a lot of positive reasons why most people like learning new languages? There are people who learn new things because of pleasure, entertainment and fun. There are also people who learn because of their environment. And, there are people who learn because they want to be ahead of others, they wanted things to be easy. Some students learn it because they can use it as a code. Broadening the knowledge about it would be easy if the students loved what they are doing.
Conveying yourself in other language and learning them makes you better and superior in your daily development and progress. You should read the benefits of being bilingual and start learning a new languages now and you know how many good things and opportunities it brings you. It will not help you just today but for the rest of your life. Bilinguals have shown enhanced creativity, better flexibility and multitasking capabilities, boosted problem solving skills and can even stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia that’s why being bilingual is a must. If your one of them be happy because not everyone is given an opportunity to learn. This is only for those who are eager and determinates to learn and live above their means. I stated above the tangible and valid benefits of being bilingual. Although there are limited evidenced that shows that being bilingual gives children notable cognitive edge, lifelong learning and proves that using second language daily will make their brains more sharp and resilient. As what I’ve said, this also helps us economically because our leaders are able to connect with other countries. We doesn’t know that bilingualism might even foster peace, justice and understanding in the issues and trends in once country. If the mention above are not a good reason to learn new language I don’t know what we should call it.