The Benefits of Multilingualism

by expert · 17 comments

The Benefits of Multilingualism - Raising Bilingual Children

By Michał B. Paradowski
Institute of Applied Linguistics,
University of Warsaw
Photo Credit: Anthony Kelley

To have another language is to possess a second soul.
— Charlemagne (742/7 – 814), King of the Franks

Multilingualism is the natural potential available to every normal human being rather than an unusual exception: “Given the appropriate environment, two languages are as normal as two lungs” (Cook 2002:23).

It need not even require the ability to speak two unrelated languages; a user of e.g. the ‘literary’ and a vernacular/dialectal variety is already multicompetent, with today only “a handful of isolated pockets of ‘pure’ monolinguals, now hard to find even in the mountains of Papua New Guinea” (ibid.). At the same time, multicompetence does not require perfect fluency in all the languages at one’s command; thus, setting the boundary would probably be a mission impossible.

The advantages that multilinguals exhibit over monolinguals are not restricted to linguistic knowledge only, but extend outside the area of language. The substantial long-lived cognitive, social, personal, academic, and professional benefits of enrichment bilingual contexts have been well documented. Children and older persons learning foreign languages have been demonstrated to:

  • have a keener awareness and sharper perception of language. Foreign language learning “enhances children’s understanding of how language itself works and their ability to manipulate language in the service of thinking and problem solving” (Cummins 1981);
  • be more capable of separating meaning from form;
  • learn more rapidly in their native language (L1), e.g. to read, as well as display improved performance in other basic L1 skills, regardless of race, gender, or academic level;
  • be more efficient communicators in the L1;
  • be consistently better able to deal with distractions, which may help offset age-related declines in mental dexterity;
  • develop a markedly better language proficiency in, sensitivity to, and understanding of their mother tongue;
  • develop a greater vocabulary size over age, including that in their L1;
  • have a better ear for listening and sharper memories;
  • be better language learners in institutionalized learning contexts because of more developed language-learning capacities owing to the more complex linguistic knowledge and higher language awareness;
  • have increased ability to apply more reading strategies effectively due to their greater experience in language learning and reading in two—or more—different languages;
  • develop not only better verbal, but also spatial abilities;
  • parcel up and categorize meanings in different ways;
  • display generally greater cognitive flexibility, better problem solving and higher-order thinking skills;
  • “a person who speaks multiple languages has a stereoscopic vision of the world from two or more perspectives, enabling them to be more flexible in their thinking, learn reading more easily. Multilinguals, therefore, are not restricted to a single world-view, but also have a better understanding that other outlooks are possible. Indeed, this has always been seen as one of the main educational advantages of language teaching” (Cook 2001);
  • multilinguals can expand their personal horizons and—being simultaneously insiders and outsiders—see their own culture from a new perspective not available to monoglots, enabling the comparison, contrast, and understanding of cultural concepts;
  • be better problem-solvers gaining multiple perspectives on issues at hand;
  • have improved critical thinking abilities;
  • better understand and appreciate people of other countries, thereby lessening racism, xenophobia, and intolerance, as the learning of a new language usually brings with it a revelation of a new culture;
  • learn further languages more quickly and efficiently than their hitherto monolingual peers;
  • to say nothing of the social and employment advantages of being bilingual – offering the student the ability to communicate with people s/he would otherwise not have the chance to interact with, and increasing job opportunities in many careers.

Thus, just like Latin once used to be taught as an academic exercise, mental gymnastics with the aim of cognitive training, it has been demonstrated that people who know more than one language usually think more flexibly than monolinguals. Many celebrated bilingual writers—such as John Milton, Vladimir Nabokov, Samuel Barclay Beckett, or Iosif Brodsky—attest that knowing a second language enhances the use of the first.

NOTE: This is a condensed, shortened version of the original article with all but a few of the references removed.  To read the full article and the article’s full references go to the full text of the research article: The Benefits of Multilingualism – Full Article.

REFERENCES (more references in Full Article)

Cook, Vivian J. (2001) Requirements for a multilingual model of language production. Retrieved from homepage.ntlworld.com/vivian.c/Writings/Papers/RequirementsForMultilingualModel.htm

———— (Ed.) (2002) Portraits of the L2 User. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Cummins, James P. (1981) The Role of Primary Language Development in Promoting Educational Success for Language Minority Students. In Leyba, F. C. (Ed.) Schooling and Language Minority Students: A Theoretical Framework. Los Angeles, CA: Evaluation, Dissemination, and Assessment Center, California State University, 3-49.

Michał B. Paradowski is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Applied Linguistics, University of Warsaw; he has also taught EFL at an elite high school. His interests include issues relating to second language acquisition research, the effects of formal instruction, and foreign language teaching in general. Dr Paradowski has authored a number of journal articles and book chapters, delivered presentations at several international conferences, and refereed submissions to recognized linguistics quarterlies.

Win a FREE language learning DVD set for your child!
Spanish, French, Portuguese, German - over 40 languages available.
Click here to to try a free lesson!
Click here to Enter to Win a FREE DVD set!

Did you like this post?
Subscribe to our RSS FEED (via favorite reader or your email address)!
Stay up-to-date, win prizes via our EMAIL LIST!

1,000+ pages of information and tips in Multilingual Living Magazine!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jimmy Will January 19, 2011 at 9:57 pm

according to me Multilingualism is harmful of us because its doesn’t show unity…

Reply

2 Himanshu April 26, 2011 at 12:14 pm

One Example – India. It is united not on the basis of anything else but complete diversity. Oh and plus you get to have all the benefits of being multilingual/cultural person!!

Reply

3 Jessica June 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Knowing English, Chinese & Spanish can help if you travel to most of the countries. I disagree with Jimmy because unity has nothing to do with language, it’s the religions that are dividing people not language.

Reply

4 afrial January 15, 2012 at 7:01 am

i have own language, my country has various language because we are consist of hundreds cultures with its own language.
I have my children to power some languages, four from our own culture/ language and one of international languge, I choose English for international language.
I have three children who can speak in five different language.
They have no problem with their daily conversation, they can choose with whom they are talking.
I believe that it gave them much benefits with their abilities in various langage.

Reply

5 love 1213 May 15, 2013 at 8:12 am

you are rigth Abouot that because you can communicat whith other peopl

Reply

6 Jase September 5, 2012 at 4:11 am

In my opinion it is not language or religion what divides people/cultures or disables unity, but merely the perceptions and ideas of people. Religion can only stand in the way of unity if people let it. And they do, ofcourse. But only if we are prepared to look over differences in any way, we can encourage unity. And it is easier to do this if you are acquainted with several languages, because then we can communicate with a wider variety of people, which helps us understand them and their cultures.

Reply

7 Carlos September 22, 2012 at 10:54 am

I think your post reflects most of the main reasons why many people do not want to learn a foreign language. I would like to add one more though. Learning a second language involves, in most cases, learn also a new culture. There are many cultures in the world, and many of them are certainly different in several aspects. Some people are not interested in learning a language from a territory or country whose culture has characteristics totally opposed to their own. In some cases, we tend to underestimate anything that is different from what we are accustomed. Then, why should we learn a language from a country which has almost nothing in common with mine? From my point of view, I think that we still have many prejudices that negatively affect the learning of a foreign language. Anyway, I think the list about “ten excuses to not learn a foreign language” is, fortunately, much shorter than all the reasons that we have to learn other languages. Your “Benefits of Multilingualism” post is a clear proof of it.

Reply

8 adiara February 20, 2013 at 1:47 am

i think that it is very important to learn many languages, it can permit you to get more opportunities about culture diversity to communicate more easily, travel like you want without the help of anyone else then your life can be very wonderful.

Reply

9 Jeffrey Nelson September 5, 2013 at 10:22 pm

More benefits are cited on my blog, here: http://livingbilingual.com/2013/05/24/what-are-the-benefits-of-being-bilingual

I disagree completely with the comments that multilingualism is harmful because it doesn’t promote unity.

Jeff

Reply

10 free trial chat lines June 29, 2014 at 1:24 am

Find quality dating sites that have a fine reputation. To connect faucets with supply lines of
this type you must measure the length of the line that you need.

So what are some of the best places to look in your quest on how to find a girlfriend?
If everything seems fine, hook up the turntable output cables to the phono input of your preamp or
receiver. And as we all know, an equipment failure when you are handling a
live load can be especially disastrous. On the shut off
end you will need two wrenches. If you have a leak all you must do is tighten the nut.

These actions may be cute at times when both individuals have a good professional relationship and socialize
with each other on a daily basis. The package does
say for seasonal use only so I guess you cannot leave it up for
long amounts of time. The computer speakers are then connected to
the Line-Out jack, and the sound will then be transmitted from
the speakers. Captain Bethune meets the Steve Irwin crew and Captain Watson himself for only
the second time. Be sure to keep your feet and legs away from the leveler bars while you are doing this.
Happy Trailering. Have you ever before wondered if
it would really be feasible to develop your own fly tying bench?
These decorations also serve two practical purposes.

With Christmas going on there were so many things to hang
when decorating I was thrilled to find the 3M Command all season nickel finish medium brushed hook.
Basics of Welding and Types of Welding Machines: When it comes to welding machines, it is important to know what
type of connection will be working best in properly hooking up your torch.
Technically, there are three ways in which a wireless router can be connected with a desktop computer.
If you are in the market for a transportable table saw, no matter whether
as a contractor who will use it on occupation sites or as a hobbyist woodworker who
will set it up for weekend jobs and then retail store it a
corner of the garage for the relaxation of the week, you know there are a lot of
saws to choose from. The hook should be in the middle of the ring when adjusted correctly.
Games can also be downloaded from the net, emails and important messages can be checked as well.

The boat and its crew and possessions are slung all over, and has caught a leak.
But if you feel that you are unable to do it alone, you can call tech support anytime, and
in many areas they do have professional installers that will
come out and install it for you. Thanks to Wi-Fi technology, the world is rapidly unplugging itself from shackles of
the wired ethernet world. As you listen to the
song I am sure many memories will pass thru your mind and this is what it’s all about.

Then it’s as simple as taking the computer you’re hooked
up to and either getting the file recovery software and installing it on that
computer, or using that computers file recovery program if they
have one. She must feel like you’re interested in something more than friendship, so
that she can respond accordingly. That is perfectly good.

Now before you run out to buy a cable make sure you have the same kind of connection on the back of your television set!
Furthermore, to improve the cable’s electrical properties the
copper strands can also get a coating of silver, which greatly impacts
its quality. Copper Tubing Some people prefer to use the old style copper tubing supply
lines. Sam may be a fine guy. When you reach
a point where the womenfolk want to learn more about you and what makes you tick,
you’re halfway into the game! Temperature wise the cables can operate to temperature
ranges of about 90 degrees Celsius or even higher,
but the insulator coating is generally the one that will dictate this particularity.
Turn the shut off valves on.

An Xbox Live starter kit, can be purchased from any store
that sells video game consoles, and this will enable you to go online with your gaming
console. If possible, try to do your hookup and checklist the day or night
before you actually leave. Today she also brought singer/songwriter, Will I Am, together with four high
school seniors who had been accepted to college but didn’t
have the money for tuition. If there is a phono cartridge in place
and in good shape clean it up and try it.
Needless to say, these guys are unique; they stand out in a crowd; and women are
able to notice them regardless of the other men in the vicinity.
To be one, you have to thumb your nose at social conventions and dare to be different.

I knew this would be perfect for hanging wreaths outside and in.

Set up a screened in outdoor patio area to help keep
the food and household supplies safe and provide shade.
You can see the signal strength next to the name of the game that you are about to join. Expert pick up artists use hypnosis techniques to hook up with women. Vonage is a self installed service.
An ethernet cable. If the ice maker isn’t working, retrace your steps to make sure that there isn’t a kink in the line or that you’ve forgotten to turn on the water valve.

Why He’ll Likely Break Your Heart Again If you hook up with your ex boyfriend and you try and play it cool,
he’ll assume that you’re okay with that being the focus of your relationship.
Remember, your opener serves as your ‘hook’.

You rely on yourself to keep your bills paid, kids fed, and a roof over your head.
Like any other woman who had been taken advantage of by a guy, I was furious.
Just connect the garden hose to the Slip N’ Slides and you can race a friend or go down a watery obstacle
course. You will need to place the drainage hose in the sink where it can drain. In your search you may locate something you actually like
and you might finish up getting a fully assembled bench.
She’ll find out.

As much as some men may be good at sex, many are not well prepared for it–which can be a turn off for some of your partners.
The farther away the person you called, the longer the wire,
the higher the cost. As with fly fishing, the
easiest way to learn is to discover somebody that
can sit down and display you 1 on 1 how to tie your flies.

PS3 is not just a gaming console. Girls decide from the
moment they meet you whether they want to go with you or not.

People report that it is affordable and flimsy. The spending budget-minded fly tier can create a substantial top quality, functional and really cost-effective bench with widespread instruments
identified in most garages or retailers and with out the want of a large conclude table saw or
any specialized woodworking tools. Often, as she did on today’s show, she
gives a star wannabe a true chance at fame.

Plug both back in and turn them back on again. This will have catastrophic consequences,
as she will find out sooner than later that you are a liar and a fake!
Don’t forget to hook up the separate ground wire also so there is no ground loop
hum or noise. After hook up It Is a good idea to keep some rags and a small
bucket handy.

Reply

11 Raising Children October 15, 2014 at 12:37 am

Many families I work with spend all their holidays in the home country of the minority-language parent, some families have two minority language parents and need to split their time between two places. And for some families, travel to the “home country” is not an option. So then, you try to bring your home country to you. A healthy Skype-relationship with family and friends can be helpful, but be aware that it may take your children some time to adapt to this form of communication.

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 6 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: