A personal appraisal on bilingualism in the world.

There is no doubt that bilingualism is very important for our everyday life and more even for people who work with the languages as translators, teachers, linguists and even businessmen.
It is important to point out that the pairs of languages vary according to the countries or regions; it is not the same “bilingualism” in South America than in Europe. After staying my second day in England I realised that the pair of languages "por excelencia" here is very far from being English-Spanish. Taking a look at UK job Websites I found out that the more common languages that people manage in England are German, French and of course, English. Hence, the difficulty that bilingualism carries in different areas of the world. Being bilingual in your native country does not mean that you are going to be so in another country of the world.
Bilingualism is directly related to better jobs and career opportunities; the fact of being a bilingual person is synonymous of being more successful in the business life. This fact is even clearer in my country of origin, Argentina, where Spanish is not the lingua franca and people are almost forced to study English at school, academies and universities if they pretend to be more successful in the business life.
Moreover, bilingualism is also reflected in our everyday life. It is not weird to find sings, posters and even shops’ names written in English or in the so called Spanglish. Music is another important social event that provides us with an example of bilingualism in our everyday life. There are a great number of artists that offer a variety of songs in more than one language.
Besides all the aforementioned considered information, it is worth to say that understanding a language is linked to the increase in economy. Most of the countries receive a huge number of tourists every year and it wouldn’t be profitable for the business of tourism not understanding the language of their clients. If we understand the language of the foreign customer, we can offer a better service and offering a good service will certainly lead to a good deal for economy.
In contrast, the dark side of bilingualism is presented for those who do not have the means to study and improve their language skills. Not every person can afford the costs of studying a foreign language abroad and not even in their own country. Moreover, language syllabuses provided by primary and secondary schools are not enough to comply with the expectations of the bilingual business world. People indeed need to reinforce their second language skills by attending extra individual classes or high level language courses. In addition, some monolingual students have restricted access to certain kind of high class schools.
Another point to consider regarding the dark side of the bilingualism is the lack of identity. It is known that backward countries, those which are not world powers, in general, have to adapt themselves to those countries which really are powers. For most of the people, it is considered a lack of identity, they feel that their culture and language are not considered important and what’s more, that nobody cares about such thing.
To sum up, I think bilingualism is very important for our lives and what’s more it is important to break the linguistic frontiers that separate people of the whole world. Bilingualism allows people to have the possibility of understanding others people’ cultures and ways of living. It is important for the growth of a country and provides workers with more opportunities. But, of course, it also has its dark side. As one proverb states: “All that glitters is not gold…”

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Author: Melina Carbajales
English to Spanish translator
By Melina Carbajales
Published on 03/25/2009
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