Bilingualism: The ability to speak a second language other than your native one. Most people would certainly agree it’s a nice skill to have. But how many actually have it?
As long ago as 2001, a quarter of the U.S. knew how to speak a second language fluently enough to hold a conversation with another person, according to a Gallup poll. And since then, the number of emigrants to the U.S., especially Mexicans, has been increasing. Many of these emigrants must be bilingual in order to survive in the U.S. For a Mexican, for example, Spanish will carry them far in many areas, such as shopping, getting a driver’s license, even voting. But English is still the most commonly used language in the U.S; The Census Bureau’s most recent study indicated that more than 200 million Americans only speak English (at home, technically). The point is, the majority of Americans use primarily English in everyday conversation and interaction, and emigrants often find it difficult to communicate because they are facing a cultural wall.
And this struggle for emigrants coming to the U.S. is precisely why bilingualism needs to become more common in the United States. As the number of emigrants increase, and so the lingual diversity in the U.S. increases, the lesser and lesser of grip the English language will have on American society. For the American majority (when I say this, I mean those who only speak English), bilingualism become critical for their communties, for their conversations, for their workplaces, for their relationships. Now, I don’t want to spend a whole lot of time discussing this, but let’s assume that we can all agree on the concept the world is becoming more connected, if not culturally, at least in terms of societal interaction and communication. In this day and age, being monolingual is not a privilege but rather a disadvantage.
Just think about it. If you wanted to convince as many people as you could about a particular concept or argument, wouldn’t you like that number of people to be as high as possible? I’m sure most of you would say, “Yes, indeed! I do so very enjoy my ideas to be respected and agreed upon!”. Being monolingual is not a blessing; it is a curse. It is not a measure of inability; it is a measure of inattention. It is not a minor issue; it is a glaring flaw. So, be bilingual. Be trilingual. Be multinlingual. But most importantly: Do NOT. Be. Monolingual. Because, if you are, you are being a limit to yourself.
Una vez más: No seas monolingüe. 🙂