Language is the sign of intellects as most of our cognitive, social, and intellectual skills are closely bound to the language we speak. While the same can be a great barrier unless we have the mastery over it. Many times one need to learn the language from the scratch in order to make sure he/she is good fit for a school or a job. Most often we see that people switch their language quickly because of the multilingualism. Multilingualism is the usage of more than one language by an individual or by a group of speakers. In general, we see that the multilingual speakers outnumber monolingual speakers across the world. Countries like India being the best example for multilingualism with a scope to learn 1000s of languages. Similarly, more than half of all Europeans claim to speak at least one language in addition to their mother tongue. However, it doesn’t mean that they can read, write, and speak but instead they can able to manage the conversation.
Monolingual is a person knowing only one language which is accountable for 40% of world population whereas bilingual is when a person using or able to use two languages especially with equal fluency. About 43% of world`s population are bilinguals. Trilingual is a person speaking 3 languages fluently (13% of world population) and the multilingual is a person who can speak more than 2 languages, but used often for 4 languages or more and these are hardly accountable for 3% of world population. Multilingualism is much useful in Education and the business. Traders, gain a great competitive advantage by mastering the, local languages. It is also advantageous for those people wanting to be fit in globalization and cultural. Thought here are a few advantages in the practice of multilingualism, the benefits outnumber the drawbacks .Some of the myths and facts that the research has unveiled about multilingual people over centuries are:
- That in order to achieve the label of multilingualism, it is not necessary to have an equal and perfect, 'native-like' command of all the languages. Having said that, just a manageable speech can do best.
- People assume that the childhood bilingualism may hamper the cognitive development and consequently lead to poorer results at school, however it is not true because, multilingual people are good achievers in general.
- Another misbelief is that exposing a child to more than one language result in language deficit as often we think that practicing 2 or more languages means too much unnecessary pressure and effort; where children do not have sufficient time to learn the primary language and secondary languages.
- Some parents believe that children tend to be confused despite having the ability to speak two languages where kids knows the meaning and the specific details of a word, but cannot retrieve it because of interchangeable tendency of language or in simple terms mixing of languages may block the expression of facts.
- Many think that multilingual individuals tend to have narrow vocabularies and are weaker in "verbal fluency tasks" than monolingual individuals but that`s a myth.
Facts about multilingualism
- Academic performance of multilingual children is better when compared to monolinguals. This is because multilingual children have a greater advantage at school.
- Studies proved that multilingual children are able to focus and concentrate better than monolingual children. The capacity to filter things out even when frequently switching the languages can help these children to focus better and enhance the brains ability to ignore irrelevant information.
- It is assumed that multilingual people encompass more grey matter that is responsible to store and retrieve information.
- It is generally observed that people speaking many languages understand the things in a broader perspective and are able to adapt things quickly.
- Some studies suggest that students speaking many languages exhibited greater growth in the hippocampus and the cerebral cortex which makes them to think deeper. Some brain scans reveal a greater density of grey matter in areas of the brain associated with language processing.
- Multilingualism helps to keep the brain active, young and not to be lethargic.
- The knowledge base and depth of a subject is always higher than the mono-linguists as there is more scope to learn concepts of different areas among multilingual students than the monolingual ones.
- Multilingual people are generally patient and they listen to things better therefore their understanding, reasoning, judgment and decision making is always superior.
- It is generally agreed that multilingual people beyond the box as speaking more than one language from the childhood introduces children to the idea of diversity. Bilingualism adds layers to their perspective, thinking, and awareness about the world we live in.
- Bilinguals can impact the business and profitability when compared to over the monolingual individuals. This is because multilingual people can carry out duties that monolinguals cannot, such as interacting with customers who only speak a minority language. A study conducted in Switzerland concluded that multilingualism is positively correlated with an individual's salary, and the country`s gross domestic production (GDP) which is at least 10% better than the counterparts.
In a nutshell, multilingual people have vast scope as they can easily sink with the globalization where language is the prime most. However, sometimes there is rub-off between the languages that result in slight variation of the fluency of a multilingual speaker.