Bilingualism means the individual’s ability to read, write, speak and hear two languages. Monolingualism is the opposite of bilingualism and it means someone’s knowledge of one language only. Today, Spanish is the second most common language in the United States after English. It is very common because there are a lot of Spanish-speaking immigrants who live in the country. These immigrants believe that the United States should have two official languages, but there are many Americans who disagree with this theory and believe that the United States must speak English only.
specifically for you
for only $16.05 $11/page
Monolingualism supporters don’t agree on having a second official language because they have some misconceptions about bilingualism. Bilingualism is a right, not a threat. Opposing bilingualism is a violation to the rights of immigrants. Also, it is a fact the bilingualism is very beneficial for the society. It can be considered a need if its benefits are taken seriously.
Bilingualism Is Not a Threat but It Is a Right
The supporters of Monolingualism have many reasons to oppose bilingualism including the belief that it can turn America into a divided country. They believe that the rising of two languages within one country will make both of them compete and that will eventually result in huge conflicts (Peterson, para.1). In reality, this is unlikely to happen because the most dominant language in the world is English and it’s hard to change that fact. Also, it’s not guaranteed that immigration can make Spanish compete with English because the grandchildren of immigrants “will end up being native English speakers” (Birner 1). Adult Immigrants who come to the United States won’t become fluent in English because learning a language during this age stage wouldn’t be as effective as if they were children. Their children will become bilinguals because they will learn Spanish from their parents and learn English from the society. The grandchildren will speak English only because they will live with bilingual parents and find themselves in a society that speaks English as the common language. In this case, the connection to Spanish will be very weak but the connection to English will be very strong (Birner 1).
Bilingualism is a fundamental right. In 1996, many non-governmental organizations, institutions and associations signed the “Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights”. This declaration was supported by the UNESCO. It was signed for the purpose of protecting linguistic minorities and their rights. This declaration is also concerned about “endangered languages” (Barcelona Declaration 1-3).
Prohibiting bilingualism is against the principles of this declaration. If the United States prohibits bilingualism it will be violating several articles in it. Here are some of the important articles in the declaration:
- Article 1: This article is very important because it contains the definition of a “language community” and the definition of a “language group”. According to this article, a language community is a certain community that is established in a certain territory and it is using “a common language as a natural means of communication and cultural cohesion among its members” (Barcelona Declaration 8). An example of this is Cuba. Cubans form a community that lives in a certain territory (Cuba), and its members use a common language (Spanish) for communication (Barcelona Declaration 8). The second important definition in this article is the definition of a language group. A language group is a group of people who share a common language but they live in a different language community. Mexican immigrants who come to the United States are a good example. These immigrants share a common language (Spanish) and live in a different language community (the United States) (Barcelona Declaration 8).
- Article 3: This article ensures a number of rights for all language groups. All language groups have equal rights of using their languages. These rights include the right to learn their language and the right to have “equitable presence of their language and culture in the communications media” (Barcelona Declaration 10). All language groups are given equal rights to use their languages, but these rights shouldn’t lead to a clash between language groups and the language community. Also, there should be no restrictions on the usage of the community’s original language (Barcelona Declaration 10).
Bilingualism Is Beneficial for the Brian and It Improves Learning Abilities
Various researches prove that bilingualism is beneficial for the brain and improves its structure and abilities. In University College London (UCL), scientists did a research on the brain structures of 105 people, 80 of them were bilinguals. The research team found that the “Grey Matter” (it’s responsible for possessing information) in the brains of bilinguals was built “in the same way exercise builds muscles” (BBC News, para.1). The UCL did another research to measure the effects of learning a second language on brain structure. The research included 83 participants who were classified into 3 categories: bilinguals, monolinguals and people who learned a second language. It was found that the density of the grey matter in the brains of bilinguals was greater than the density of the grey matter in the brains of monolinguals and people who learned a second language. Also, the density of the grey matter in the brains of people who leaned a second language was greater than the density of the grey matter in the brains of monolinguals (BBC News, para.1).
Bilingualism must be seen as an investment because it improves students’ performance. Many studies show that bilingual students score better than monolingual students at school. There was a study in the 1990’s that examined the comprehensive abilities of 134 children between the age 4 and 5. Some of these children were bilinguals and the others were monolinguals. Researchers examined the children’s ability to understand the “general symbolic representation of a print” (Marcos, para.4). It was found the bilingual children understood the representation better (Marcos, para.4).
100% original paper
on any topic
done in as little as
Bilingualism protects the brain from the fast decline in mental abilities that is resulted by aging. Many researches were conducted in many countries about that theory. These researches included using the “Simon Task” to test the participants’ mental abilities during distractions. In the Simon Task, the participant is asked to watch a computer screen and look at the red and blue squares that would appear there. There are two “shift” keys next to the participant, and he/she must depress each key depending on the color of the square he/she sees on screen. In general, participants show slower performance if the squares appear suddenly in new positions. The leader of the research Ellen Bialystok says that bilingual participants perform better than monolingual participants in the Simon Task. In order to have this level of mental abilities, the person must be fluent in the two languages “without allowing words and grammar from one to slip into the other” (Vedantam, para.1). In this research, it was noticed that the effect of bilingualism was very significant on older participants (Vedantam, para.1).
Bilingualism Is Very Important in Today’s Life
America can gain a lot if there are many bilingual Americans. The government can put a plan to hire bilinguals in all government agencies. This step can support the notion of cultural diversity in America and improve the relationship between the government and immigrants. It is necessary for the government to hire bilinguals as “teachers, healthcare providers, customer service representatives, and law enforcement personnel” (Marcos, para.5).
Also, bilinguals can serve America’s interests abroad. Hiring bilinguals in different positions in the government and business corporations can improve the relationship between America and the global community. Governmental organizations and business corporations must consider hiring bilinguals as “international trade specialists, overseas media correspondents, diplomats, airline employees, and national security personnel” (Marcos, para.5). Learning more than one language can ensure a better future and better careers. People who know more than one language have better chances in life because they are highly demanded (Marcos, para.5).
People who don’t agree with the idea of having two official languages must remember that bilingualism is a fundamental right. Immigrants have the right to enjoy using their languages in public without any restrictions. This is the strongest reason why opposing bilingualism shouldn’t be an acceptable idea.
Bilingualism makes children have better mental abilities. They will become better learners and eventually better in their careers in the future. Also, bilingualism is a great way to protect the human mind from aging fast. The desire to prohibit bilingualism is a desire to ignore an important tool that can be very beneficial for the United States.
Bilingualism supports the cultural diversity in the United States. If the governmental organizations hires a big number of bilingual employees there will be more harmony in the community instead of clashes. The relationship between cultures will become stronger and America will become a stronger nation. Bilingualism can support the United States’ interests abroad because the need for bilingual officials is increasing rapidly. Bilingualism can improve the relationship between the United States and other countries. Business corporations need people who are fluent in more than one language. With bilingualism, American business corporations can have better competitiveness in the global market. Bilingual employees have better chances in life because they are highly demanded. Prohibiting bilingualism can create a problem in the global markets.
Birner, Betty. “Bilingualism.” Linguistic Society of America. Web.
“Learning languages ‘Boosts Brain’.” BBC News.2004
Marcos, Kathleen. “Benefits of Being Bilingual.” Ñandutí. 2008.
Peterson, Daneen. “Bilingualism = A Divided America.” Stop the North American Union. 2006.
Vedantam, Shankar. “Bilingualism’s Brain Benefits.” The Washington Post. 2004. The Washington Post Company.
“World Conference on Linguistic Rights: Barcelona Declaration.” 1996. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.