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Politics and Activism

Come On United States, We Need To Be Bilingual

As a nation founded on immigrants, we're slacking.

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https://unsplash.com/photos/8MMtYM_3xMY
https://unsplash.com/photos/8MMtYM_3xMY

In a 2015 report, only 13.8% of U.S. citizens reported knowing more than one language. In contrast, 74.5% of Israelites are bilingual, while 10.4% of Spain is multilingual. That means Spain's population of people who can speak three languages is only 3.4% lower than the total amount of people who know more than one language in the U.S. (likely most of those respondents are bilingual). As a nation who is so involved with other countries, it is ironic to say the least, that the U.S. has such a low amount of people who know more than one language.

Being bilingual has a plethora of benefits. Research shows that children who are exposed to more than one language grow up more frequent to adapt to changes, have a better attention span, and are able to multitask more. Although, if you're not a child, you can still cognitively benefit from learning another language. such as having a sharper mind compared to people of the same age and even lessening the chance of having a stroke. Yes, despite being seen as something that influences one's mental state, learning a new language can also give physical benefits.

In addition, being bilingual is a great feature to add on a resume. Especially within government jobs, languages are highly valued for a vast array of reasons (cough, Russian investigation, immigration issues). In an era where joining the workforce can be tedious, and between multiple candidates who have an ample amount of awards and experience, having another language under your belt could give you that advantage you need.

Being bilingual has social benefits, too. Being bilingual can personally help you in a foreign country, if they don't speak English, or can save you money on having a tour guide for translation purposes. Knowing two languages can also give you personal gratification, if you're able to help someone who speaks one of the languages you do, but not the other, and need help being directed somewhere or finding someone.

Especially in the 21st century, there are so many resources out there to utilize, differing from people decades ago who had to purely learn a new language from a book. Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, and Youtube are newer options that make learning a new language more accessible.

The next time you think about slacking on your Spanish homework, think twice. In a nation that leads in many aspects, it is embarrassing that we are so monolingual.

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