Multilingual Youths

The numbers of multilingual youths have been growing in this world day by day.

While many parents are concerned that speaking two or more languages can hinder and interfere with the child’s academic and intellectual development, the benefits of being multilingual clearly overwhelms any potential negativities. For youths to have advantages in future workforce, become mentally adept and flexible, and understand various cultures, it is necessary and beneficial for youths to be multilingual. First of all, youths will be able to grasp benefits and privilege in future workforce if they are multilingual. In the past century, society has become steadily more globalized. Hence, companies have been looking for candidates with unique qualities that stand out amongst the crowd. Antonella Sorace, a University of Edinburgh professor of linguistics, as advising companies to hire more polyglots, said, “Hire more multilingual employees, because these employees can communicate better, have better intercultural sensitivity, are better at cooperating, negotiating, compromising.

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But they can also think more efficiently” (Sorace). This proves that being multilingual reaches beyond being able to read, speak, and write in multiple languages. Multilingual individuals naturally develop social skills that allow them to “communicate better”, “have intercultural sensitivity”, and “are better at cooperating and think more efficiently”, which are all necessary and vital traits for employees. Therefore, one must realize that being a multilingual youth requires more diligence and time than others; however, in the long run, it is a definite advantage, especially in the workforce, getting hired as an employee. Furthermore, polyglots are more mentally competent than those who are monolinguals.

Many are against multilingual youths, because in a bilingual’s brain both language systems are active even when using one language, creating obstructive situations in the brain. However, this has been proven to be a very trivial handicap. Instead, in a study done by psychologists Ellen Bialystok and Michelle Marin-Rhee, bilingual and monolingual preschoolers were asked to sort blue circles in the bin marked with the red circle and red squares in the bin marked with the blue square. This required placing the images in a bin marked with a conflicting color. The bilinguals were much quicker at performing this task. These collective evidence have shown that bilinguals execute mentally demanding tasks that require planning and problem solving more efficiently.

This includes ignoring distractions, and the flexibility of the brain to switch one’s attention from one thing to another quickly. As multilingual youths are mentally agile than others, multilingualism is a clear benefit in the dexterous development of the brain. In addition, multilingual youths are not only exposed to multiple cultures at once, but can also conduct and transition themselves in the necessary cultural manner anytime. In an article called “Multilingual Youths Fluent in Future Tense”, journalist Marr Prichard states, “Young people who can speak three languages have a huge advantage, heightened even more by being able to move fluidly between the cultures” (Prichard). Furthermore, Jason Shiu, a High School student from the International School of Beijing who has been learning Chinese since early Elementary School has said, “Compared to when I am with my friends and teachers that speak English with me, I feel like I conduct myself completely different in the Chinese classroom. However, I’ve never discovered that transition to be difficult.

Perhaps because I am too used to it” (Shiu). This is a clear indication that polyglots not only have the benefit of being exposed to multiple cultures at once, but they are also able to conduct these transitions between cultures “fluidly”, without having it “to be difficult”. Culture is the ideas, customs, and behaviors of a societal group. Exposure to various cultures means exposure to different kinds people, and the experience of dealing with various groups with different beliefs. Therefore, as multi-linguals have the opportunity and exposure to people of multiple cultures, it is beneficial to be multilingual.

Finally, as Frank Smith has once said, “One language sets you in a corridor of life. Two languages open every door along the way”. Multi-linguals will have advantages in the workforce, become mentally agile, and have the opportunity of being exposed to multiple cultures. Therefore, understanding and speaking multiple languages in the days of youth will have a clear benefit on one’s life.