In a region bursting with cultural diversity, it’s not uncommon to hear a variety of languages while walking around South Florida. On the surface, knowing multiple languages allows you to communicate with even more people. Yet the benefits of being multilingual reach beyond this and include a widened understanding of the world and enhanced cognitive skills with lasting effects.
One of the most defining characteristics of identity lies with culture. Per the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “culture” references “the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.” In order to transmit said knowledge, people must have a way of communicating through a common language. By comprehending other point of views, you become more aware of your surroundings.
For Spanish teacher Mrs. Judy Ramos, knowing a foreign language serves as a door to different cultures. “There’s nothing better than knowing another language. It really helps you understand different cultures because you can’t learn a language without learning about the culture. It just comes together,” Mrs. Ramos said. “The more you understand about other cultures, the more tolerant you are of differences.”
Knowing multiple languages also increases multitasking capabilities. In a study conducted at Pennsylvania State University by Distinguished Professor of Psychology Judith Kroll, bilingual speakers are more adept to filtering unnecessary information to hone in on what matters.
“Bilinguals simply acquire specific types of expertise that help them attend to critical tasks and ignore irrelevant information,” Kroll said.
Long term, bilingualism helps strengthen the brain against cognitive degenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Conducted by neuropsychologist Tamar Gollan from the University of California, San Diego, a study of elderly Spanish and English speakers showed that those with a higher degree of bilingualism were less likely to develop these diseases.
As a whole, knowing multiple languages makes you a more well-rounded individual. In a world with roughly 6,500 languages spoken, it truly is a shame to limit yourself to knowing just one.