“You’ll have more opportunities. You’ll be smarter. You’ll get into college.” These statements are frequently used as advertisements to boost the image of multilingualism; but are these benefits really facts or are they merely a hoax?
Being multilingual has been seen as a virtue and a necessity in our culturally diverse world. Parents are paying millions to teach their children foreign languages, from Mandarin to Spanish, in the hopes that they will one day become successful. A study conducted at the University of Edinburgh suggests that learning a nonnative language can have positive effects on creativity, critical thinking skills, and focus.
The positive effects were found both in early and late learners, which contradicts the popular belief that one can only learn a language at a young age. Multilingualism has even been shown to slow down brain-aging and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s, which affects more than five million Americans.
When it comes to financial return, those entering the workforce with second language fluency earn an average of five to 20 percent more in pay. According to US News, business leaders are seeking bilingual employees because of the increasing amount of foreign interaction.
Employers in the financial and consumer industry are especially in need of bilingual employees. Bilingualism can increase the likelihood of finding jobs as bank tellers, marketing managers, detectives, human-resource specialists, and social workers, among others.
With the students’ futures in mind, MAST offers foreign language courses such as French, German, and Spanish.
“The doors the language has opened for my students range from the kid with the job at American Apparel who told me he used Spanish every day with his clients, to the young woman with a science internship in the Galapagos who got her spot partly because she could say on her application that she spoke Spanish,” Spanish teacher Lynn Paisley said.
Sophomore Gabriella Marin has experienced these benefits first-hand. Apart from English, she dominates Spanish, and is fluent in French and Euskara (a Basque language).
“Thanks to Spanish, I can go anywhere and communicate. I already have a scholarship and colleges sending me letters,” Marin said.
“It’s an integral part of the high school curriculum. It’s required in most countries in the world, in Europe, and in Latin America. It provides cultural knowledge for the student. It helps the student appreciate his or her own language more. It develops cognitive skills; it allows you to learn history, geography, economics, and current events. It opens up the world,” French teacher Elena Rivas said.