By Cole Campbell
“The world is huge”; “I do not understand other cultures”; “they are so much different than we are”.
These statements are all too often a reality for many monolingual speakers because they become too comfortable living and conversing in their native language and culture. One of the best ways to come to understand a culture and people different from your own is to attempt to learn their language. When someone finds out that you speak their native tongue, they light up with excitement and take notice that you made the effort to learn their language, even if it is just a “hello, how are you today?” Learning a second language makes the world smaller because you are no longer restricted to stay within your lingual borders, but you can explore, learn from, and befriend new people living in settings different from your own.
Whenever somebody asks me what was my favorite part about my study abroad experience, I say without hesitation that I can now meet and understand nearly anybody living among the Americas and Spain, due to my achievement of fluency in Spanish. Being a bilingual speaker in today’s globalized world can greatly improve your job prospects as well. Just last year, CNN Money named bilingualism as the hottest skill for job seekers because it proves a strong work ethic, due to the discipline it takes to master a second language.
Bilinguals are also reported to earn between 5-20% more money per hour than their monolingual counterparts. Additionally, a bilingual individual’s brain is more alert, quicker at resolving conflicts, and even is less likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. So start today! Take a foreign language class, step out of your monolingual comfort zone, and bridge the cultural gap between you and millions. Stop by the Study Abroad Office to learn more about specific programs to help become fully immersed in a new language and to launch your bilingual career!