The Chinese Effect and the Importance of Being Multilingual

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For as long as I can recall, one of the distinctions of being fluent in Chinese was that relatively few people in my environment were able to understand it. Of course, that's not to say that there weren't some great advantages accompanying the relative obscurity of a language--whenever, for example, I didn't want people listening in on phone conversations, I would simply switch to Chinese to fend off eavesdroppers. But imagine my surprise, then, especially in recent years to discover that increasing numbers of people of non-Chinese descent were capable of basic Mandarin. Many of these speakers were not simply educated through college courses, but were the products of years of assimilation in Chinese culture and language tutoring.


These speakers represent the growing population in the US that realizes the importance being multilingual. This trend certainly has its advantages; scientific research has indicated that children who learn multiple languages from an early age have an increased sense of creativity and improved critical thinking skills. Although bilingual children can sometimes confuse the varying grammar rules across languages, overall, polyglots have improved communication skills.

From a personal perspective, I've always believed in the importance of being multilingual because of the immense benefits that accompany language-learning. As a kid, I remember spending my summers in Shanghai and learning to speak nothing but Chinese for months at a time. Chinese was difficult to master but ultimately, provided me with greater memorization and reasoning abilities.

Overall, being a polyglot has major advantages in terms of gaining critical skills from language learning that are only now beginning to be recognized in society today. To end with a fun fact, the Broca's area, an area of the brain responsible for language, of polyglots is organized differently than those of monolinguists.


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This was a very interesting blog! I agree completely with the importance of knowing more than one language. I am not bilingual presently, but I hope to be within the next few years! I think it's great that America is finally starting to see the importance of learning another language; for communicating with others around the world, and for the advantages it gives the individual like you stated. Thanks!

Great post! I also believe that the importance of being bilingual has been increasing
especially in america. I found it interesting that the brocas area is different for a bilingual or a monologuist, I myself have tried drastically to become a bilingual it seems to be whatever i do I cant become fluent. great job on highlighting the advantages of being bilingual.
thanks for sharing!

Really interesting topic! I enjoyed reading your post because I am bilingual and I would also switch up the language I spoke in when I didn't want people understanding me. Basic Spanish is very common now so I have to be more cautious! I agree with you that being multilingual is important and a huge advantage now-a-days!

Good post! I always wonder how much of the language you need to know to be considered bilingual. People always tell me that I'm so lucky I know how to speak Japanese, but I feel like I don't know as much as I should. My friends tell me that sometimes I sleep talk in Japanese.. not that they know how to speak Japanese.. but still!

I love that you brought up that at first you thought your second language was just used to keep things from being heard form others and how it transformed into something more than that for you. The ability to speak more than one language is such a wonderful ability to have and like you said should be learned at a young age so it can be retained. One question I had is in your head is their a clear distinction to you which language you are thinking or processing things in? Is it your first language or the one you have adapted to?

I agree completely that being multilingual is imperative for enhanced success in life. I am fluent in both English and Spanish which has been beneficial for trips and vacations to various countries. I also think that people who take the initiative to learn a second or third language have a greater desire to be the best they can and pursue their dreams and goals. Overall, languages are what we use to communicate and knowing more than one is extremely helpful and advantageous.

I really enjoyed this blog. I agree totally with the advantages of being multilingual. I imagine employers would look favorably upon it also. I wish I had had the ability to cut off ease droppers; that would have been nice. I also thought it was interesting how it affected the layout of the brain, although it doesn't surprise me with all. The advantages that it brings like easier memorization would be extremely helpful.

Nice blog, and interesting topic. I would have to agree with you that being multilingual has some great advatnages. Speaking for myself I don't think I was ever made for a spoken 2nd language. I have taken Spanish, German, and Italian, and I did not excel in any of those. Where now I am taking classes in American Sign Language. Compared to any other language course ASL is the easiest thing I have ever done. That could stem from the way you learn ASL, with all the motions being easier to remember. I would almost guess that ASL involves a lot more semantic memory. Also I can't imagine coming from Chinese to English would be a easy task?

Very good blog. The points you made were very interesting a agree with all of them. My family is originally from Panama so they are always speaking spanish. Although I never completely learned spanish, simply by listening and being around it so much has given me a great knowledge of the language and allowed me to communicate with other spanish speakers. I really do agree that children who are multilingual will succeed at higher rates that people who are monolingual. Knowing another language allows you to learn more about other cultures and also communicate with other people better.

Extremely interesting post! I think this is a great topic to discuss because it is getting more and more necessary to speak more than one language. I think that no matter what language it may be, every child should learn to speak at least two languages. It is important in our growing world to speak more than one language in order to understand other cultures as well as communicate with others better. I also thought it was very interesting how Broca's area is wired differently in a multilingual person than in a monolingual person. That just shows another way of how neat the brain really is!

I think your blogpost is very interesting. You gave a lot of facts that I did not know before. I am also a multi lingual and your post gave some explanations to me on certain things.

I have heard Chinese is a difficult language to learn, even as first language. You mentioned that it taught you to be have better memorization skills. I assume it is because of the many characters. I spent some time in Japan and had fun trying to understand basic things that would help me get around and have basic communication. It was indeed very difficult I felt that I learned valuable perspective into the culture.

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This page contains a single entry by caoxx217 published on March 6, 2012 11:07 PM.

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