As a student who has spent a year studying abroad in Mexico and learning another language, the topic of bilingualism was fascinating to me. Our book discusses several advantages and disadvantages to learning a second language.
One disadvantage is that syntax in a language is affected as many languages have contradicting syntax patterns; this problem is eventually addressed as the student spends more time learning the language.
Despite the disadvantage of confusing syntaxes, the advantages of learning a second language seem to far outweigh the potential difficulties. Students who learn a second language have an increased metaliguistical knowledge; that is to say that they better understand part of a language and how they work together. This has certainly been true for me. As I have increased my ability to speak Spanish, I have come to a greater understanding of how language is structured and used.
Apart from the linguistical benefits of learning a second language, there are also a great number of social benefits. This article discusses one student's experiences learning a second language and the ways that doing so have opened up more opportunities for her. In my experience, learning Spanish has not only provided me another way to communicate but has given me an even greater insight into another culture and the issues that surround it.