It is an irrefutable fact that in the cosmopolitan world bilingualism is considered as the most advantageous skill which includes educational and social benefits. Although it has some drawbacks such as losing national identity and decreasing in the quality of the usage of mother tongue, the advantages of multilingualism outweigh all drawbacks giving opportunity for individuals cognitive improvement (yielding studying abroad, mental flexibility, language background and personal development)as well as taking the advantageous of being sociable person (including cultural integration, travelling and employment).
According to the thoughts of Charles (2007), language issues concern everyone and that knowledge is created and shared through language use. Coccia (1979) notes that the study of foreign languages is more practically valuable than ever as young people today seek to relate to the global community, consequently, more people travel to foreign lands today than ever before. Both of the authors stress on the importance of bilingualism which has a positive effect for the position of any people in society.
Firstly, the contribution of bilingualism for cognitive development of learners is a vital issue which is considered as an advantage for learning another language. This positive cognitive benefit of bilingualism make the learner being familiar with the style of acquiring an additional language. It helps to improve one’s mental flexibility and metacognitive skills that have a positive effect on the efficiency of background knowledge for an additional language.
Green (1998) believes that this advantage is due to the regular use of domain-general executive control processes when bilinguals need to produce their target language. In other words, since bilinguals need to inhibit and select a language, they activate their left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Additionally acquisition of second language leads to healthy aging improving memory flexibility, promoting thinking skills and delaying the aging process of the brain. There is a saying in English ”Use it or Lose it” which means the more the brain utilized the more it keeps its stability and power.
Therefore it is undeniable healthy older individuals’ memory and cognitive skills are associated with bilingualism and language usage. Lee and Tzeng (2016) claim that foreign language learning results in effective structural as well as functional connectivity in the brain due to neural plasticity. According to the research of scientists the disease called as Alzheimer that is mostly elder people suffer from due to the forgetting the everyday routines and even their background is not observed among the bilingual aged-people.
Furthermore, in terms of intercultural and international awareness, dual language learning plays a key role giving opportunity to receive sufficient comprehension of target language’s culture and being able to compare it with own language culture. Liddicoat (2002b, p. 7) explains ”culture is not about information and things, it is about actions and understandings…Cultural knowledge is not therefore a case of knowing information about the culture; it is about knowing how to engage with the culture”. It can be acknowledged from this perspective that multilingualism not only make it possible to learn other cultures but also enable the people how to deal with developing intercultural competence and based on the cultural knowledge understanding and valuing all languages and cultures.
Secondly, bilingualism is not just beneficial for cognitive development, it is extremely valuable to facilitate building a successful career. Nowadays the population of the world is levelling up at an alarming rate which makes the job market more demanding for the potential employees.
The requirements in global employment competence are being increased for the individuals including : being able to communicate with foreign people from other nations, comprehending others’ thoughts and beliefs, to think critically in every situations. ”Many fields such as the travel industry, communications, advertising, education and engineering have sectors dealing with foreign language study. Having better employment opportunities and greater chances of excelling in business suggest the importance of foreign language study”. (Osborne, 2003)
As can be seen from this view that in the globalized world capability of speaking more than one language is an essential and complex issue because of intercontinental connections among the countries especially in business sector. In order to get a high position and being promoted in the job market, to master only one’s own branch is insufficient as bilingualism is also important for presenting one’s projects or plans in any diplomatic situations.
To obtain the specific prerogative in the employment , getting high education in a prestigious foreign university is essential to get precedence for the selection among potential workers. As it provides some privilege for the content of the CV, the probability of selection will be relatively higher during the job interviews. Additionally, there is no doubt that the priority of admission requirement of prestigious universities for the students is the conversance of a foreign language. Junor and Usher (2008) claim that general language proficiency and cultural integration (culture shock) often hold individuals back from choosing to study abroad.
The disadvantage of the multilingualism is directly connected with the influencing for the mother tongue which effects the identical structure of first language and national identity. More specifically , in our country it can be observed many bilingual families’ children that speak in a foreign language, even sometimes encounter difficulty to communicate and understand their own mother tongue.
Consequently they become to lose their national identity and appear to show disrespect for their customs and traditions as one’s mother tongue represent its national status. On the other hand much fossilizations can be observed in the speech of a multilingual person that bilinguals have more tendency to make language mistakes then monolinguals. Overgeneralization is the biggest problematic issue that mostly bilinguals suffer from.
To sum up, dual language learners always have more advantages than monolinguals in terms of cognitive and social benefits including memory flexibility, intercultural competence, definite career advantage, successful tertiary education and so on. In order to prevent any drawbacks of multilingualism children should be taught how to use the second language more perfectly paying special attention to the perfect usage of first language. Multilingualism opens the door to many opportunities in life ranging from a sense of open-mindedness to the mental flexibility as well as playing a vital role in the professional life of a person. Bilingual person takes priority in every situation with the ability of problem-solving and communication.
Charles, M. (2007). “Language matters in global communication”: Article based on ORA lecture, October 2006 Journal of Business Communication, 44: 260
Coccia, J. A. (1979). “The state of foreign language study–Rekindling an interest”. NASSP Bulletin: Sage Journal 63: 38.
Green, D. W. (1998). Mental control of the bilingual lexico-semantic system. Bilingualism Language and Cognition,1(02), 67–81.https://doi.org/10.1017/S1366728998000133
Junor, S. & Usher, A. (2008). “Student mobility and credit transfer: A national and global survey”. Educational Policy Institute, 1-52
Lee, R. R. W., and Tzeng, O. J. L. (2016). Neural bilingualism: a new look at an old problem. Lang. Linguist. 17, 147–193. doi: 10.1177/1606822X15614523
Liddicoat, A 2002b, ‘Static and dynamic views of culture and intercultural language acquisition’, Babel, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 4–11.
Osborne, N. (2003). “The importance of learning languages in today’s world”. http://www.buzzle.com/articles/importance-of-the-foreign-language-study.htm.