In the final installment of this blog series, we will observe some of the different ways in which bilingualism can benefit a person on a social level. Previously, we spoke of the ways in which bilingualism can benefit someone both cognitively and professionally. On the cognitive side, the bilingual person tends to be more observant and detail-oriented. This person usually possesses the ability to better express himself or herself and has a greater vocabulary base than a monolingual person. And on the professional side, the bilingual person tends to be more attractive to potential employers; they are usually hired over monolingual people, get more promotions, and acquire jobs that require traveling. So, what are the ways in which bilingualism can affect a person on a social level?
Usually one who is able to speak more than one language is better equipped to communicate with those who speak other languages. The bilingual person tends to have more friends from different countries, and so they are usually more open and understanding of other cultures. Many countries take part in traditions that may be different than those of one’s mother country. A monolingual person may have a hard time understanding why someone would want to eat, let’s say, balut (a fertilized egg that is boiled alive and consumed whole). A bilingual person who speaks one of the many Asian languages is able to engage in lively discussion with those Asian people who eat this interesting dish, and might therefore be better equipped to accept and perhaps even partake in this custom. The monolingual person misses out on this opportunity.
Also, the bilingual person has an easier time when traveling to other countries. If say, a person speaks Spanish as a second language, and takes a trip to Europe, they will most certainly be able to better understand any of the Romance languages. The Romance languages include French, Spanish, Portuguese, Rumanian and Italian, and the great thing about these is that they share a great deal of words. The words may be spelled a bit differently, or have different letters and pronunciation, but the core of the word is essentially the same. Take for instance “good morning.” In French bonjour, in Italian buongiorno, in Spanish buen día, and in Portuguese bom dia. Notice the similarity between these words? And notice how the English version is rather different? You wouldn’t believe how many examples of this exist!
So remember, knowing more than one language can help you in more ways than one!