The United States has always been considered a melting pot of cultures, customs, and ideas. One large part of a culture’s identity is language. While English is the language primarily used in the U.S., it is not classified as the official language. When visiting larger cities, it is not uncommon to see businesses with their names written in a foreign language. Even in Texarkana, it is likely that you will hear people speak a foreign language during a trip to the grocery store or on a Saturday at the mall. Perhaps you have been curious about what they were talking about or what language they were speaking.
There are many benefits to being multilingual in the United States. Being multilingual provides opportunities in education and business. Many businesses and companies are looking for people who are multilingual to handle their overseas accounts or communicate with members of their target demographic. Among the largest occupational fields in the United States are retail, food preparation, and registered nurses. Workers in these fields are very likely to encounter people who are not comfortable speaking English and would be relieved to find someone they can really communicate with. In a survey of 581 alumni of The American Graduate School of International Management in Glendale, Arizona, most respondents said they had gained a competitive advantage from their knowledge of foreign languages and other cultures. They said that not only was language study often a critical factor in hiring decisions and in enhancing their career paths, it also provided personal fulfillment, mental discipline, and cultural enlightenment.
Learning a foreign language does not have to be as difficult as some may think. There are many resources available now online and in print that make learning easier. Apps are available like Babbel and Duolingo that prepare lessons for beginners and more advanced learners that make learning simple and less expensive than taking a formal class. Learning can also be made easy by simply watching movies in foreign languages. It is proven that adults learn language more naturally when they replicate the process of first language acquisition. As babies, we learn language by mimicking our parents and others around us. They can inflect the meaning of words by changing their tone of voice or exaggerating the emotion it represents. We don’t begin expanding our vocabulary and learning grammar rules until elementary school after we have basic knowledge of the language. In the school setting, language is taught with vocabulary and grammar first. This process makes learning more difficult for adults who are already used to speaking one language.
Second language acquisition is more natural when you familiarize yourself with the sounds and pick up words and phrases from hearing the language more often. Being multilingual can open you up for opportunities in a variety of career paths and give you an edge when you apply for jobs. The process of learning other languages does not have to be difficult, time consuming, or expensive and you can set your own pace based on your other responsibilities.