Second Language and Bilingualism

Topics: Linguistics, Second language, Multilingualism Pages: 7 (2513 words) Published: June 3, 2013
What Are the Benefits and the Myths of Bilingualism?

Outline
Thesis: besides the advantage of improving and making communication easier, being able to speak two languages has other great benefits such as the fact that it stimulates intellectual growth, changes come more easily and there are more job opportunities. However, although there are many benefits, there are some that criticize bilingualism and state that it causes language delays and confusion, and other problems.

I. Definition of bilingualism

II. Benefits of bilingualism

A. Communication
B. Intellectual growth
C. Adaptable to change
D. Job opportunities

III. Criticism
A. Language delay
B. Language confusion
C. Other problems

Language is one of, if not the most important tools in communication. It can be a barrier in the communication process between two people if they aren’t speaking the same language. Even though there are dictionaries, conversation guides and online translators, it is time consuming to translate from one language to the other. That is why many people choose to learn a second language, or teach their children another language from an early age in order to avoid this problem. Besides the advantage of improving and making communication easier, being able to speak two languages has other great benefits such as the fact that it stimulates intellectual growth, changes come more easily and there are more job opportunities. However, although there are many benefits, there are some that criticize bilingualism and state that it causes language delays and confusion, and other problems.

Definition of bilingualism
As the online version of the “Merriam-Webster” dictionary explains, the term bilingualism was first used in 1873 and it represents the ability of speaking two different languages. This ability can be developed in various ways such as living in communities where two languages are spoken, from family employees such as babysitters or house servants, or in school (“Bilingualism”). There are many other ways of learning a new language such as moving to another country, taking private lessons, or using self-learning books. Technology has advanced so much in the last years that almost everything is possible. Computer programs such as ‘Rosetta Stone’ can help a person to learn a new language. According to their website, there are 4 steps in learning a language: “learn naturally: without repetitive translation or monotonous drills”, “engage interactively: with a variety of activities and scenarios to motivate you”, “speak confidently and develop your conversational abilities via our proprietary speech recognition technology”, and lastly, “have fun – our method turns language learning into a fun and satisfying experience” (“How it Works”). Another way to acquire new language skills can also be obtain by using the internet and social networks where you can communicate with people from all over the world, speaking different languages. Lastly, perhaps the most common way is by having parents or other family members that speak two different languages.

Benefits of bilingualism
Being able to speak more than one language has many advantages. Today’s world is very much interconnected and knowing another language than your native one can be of great service. Viorica Marian, Ph.D., who is the chair of the communication sciences and disorders at Northeastern University and associate professor of communication sciences and disorders, psychology and cognitive science, and Anthony Shook, a doctoral candidate in the department of communication sciences and disorders at the same university, show in their article “The Cognitive Benefits of Being Bilingual” that in 2006 in the European Union, the top three countries in which the population was bilingual were Luxembourg, with a bilingual population of 99%, Sweden with 97% and Latvia with 95%, while for the whole European Union, the percent...

Cited: Bhatia, Tej K. and William C. Ritchie. The Handbook of Bilingualism. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing, 2004. Print.
Romaine, Suzanne. Bilingualism - Second Edition. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers Inc., 1995. Print.
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