Lincoln High School Statesman

The benefits of being bilingual

Summer Ericson, OPED Editor

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I looked at the man, trying to remember all of the lessons my Spanish teachers taught me while my coworkers looked at me in confusion.

It was a normal day at work when a man entered and said a few short words in English. His English was mostly Spanish with a few English words thrown in. Luckily, I’ve taken Spanish for four years. I talked to the man in Spanish, hoping I wasn’t making any embarrassing mistakes with the language. Surprisingly, he understood me, and I was able to help him with what he needed. After the man left, I realized how empowering it was to have the ability to communicate with others in a different language. I was the only person at work that could understand what the man was saying. I felt connected to him, sort of like I had known him for years just through a few words.

Knowing a second language has become a crucial part of this day in age. Yes, we have technology that can spit out a perfect sentence in virtually any language, but actually knowing and understanding another language is extremely beneficial.

Being bilingual opens the door for more opportunities in the workforce and social field. Knowing a second language sets you apart from other applicants interviewing for a job you so badly want, and allows for countless more conversations and friendships. Studies have shown that being bilingual also-to be blunt-makes you smarter.

According to The New York Times, being bilingual can “have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age.”

Although learning a second language at a young age is easier, anyone can have success learning another language. I encourage all high schoolers to take at least three years of a second language or more. Just knowing a bit of the language can be a help.

My situation with the man opened a newfound interest in language and its abilities to connect people. Once in a while, I see the man walking past my work and we wave to each other. We only exchanged a few words, but those words opened the doors to a friendship between us.

 

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