Colloquium on Multilingualism

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Multilingualism is the use of more than one language, either by an individual speaker or by a community of speakers. Nowadays multilingualism is conquering educational programs and there is a debate whether this is correct or, on the contrary, monolingual education is better. In my opinion, learning more than one language has more advantages than disadvantages.

It is a well-known fact that in our world it is necessary to be multilingual if you don´t want to be left behind. An example of this is when you want to get a job because, as everyone knows, employers prefer to hire people that can use more than one language.

When we go to school we learn a lot of subjects, we enlighten ourselves. Therefore, there isn´t a better way to know about a culture (literature, art,…) than having direct access to it. That means that, for example, you are going to understand Vladimir Nabokov´s literary style if you read his “Lolita” in its original language than if you read a translation.

Let us now move to an important concept: ‘split personality.’ As BBC explains in an article, ‘split personality’ is the quality that lets multilingual people travel to a country or place depending on the language that they are using. Let us suppose that someone asks you what is your favorite food in English. In this situation you are going to think about a food you like but at the time, you are going to relate this food with England. ‘Split personality’ is a complex skill but the fact is that it reveals that there are a lot of cognitive qualities associated to multilingualism that are just starting to be discovered and that we should start developing when we go to school.

From what has been said, it can be seen that multilingual educational programs, if they let students have enough hours of every subject, is becoming a social phenomenon governed by the needs of globalization and cultural opening, and I´m in favour of them.

Aitana V.

What can you do nowadays if you can only speak one language? Very few things out of your country. Languages are a very important aspect of our daily lives, they are necessary to travel and they can bring advantages to find more jobs.

It’s true that bilingual and multilingual education plans have less hours to work other subjects, and that the kids will have a larger amount of work because they have more subjects to study. But apart from this, all’s advantages.

One of them is that students develop better communication skills. They can talk with people from different countries with no problem and they will have the opportunity to meet new people that they wouldn’t have met if they hadn’t learnt the language. Also, there are studies that show that the brains of people who know more than one language are fitter and have skills to block the disturbing noises to get the information they want.

Knowing many languages can give you access to jobs where languages are necessary and give you opportunities to travel to new places and even live abroad and learn different cultures and lifestyles.

All of this makes us think that multilingual education must be mandatory. It’s very important to take advantage of the age of the kids because while they are younger, learning languages is easier and faster.

Eider V.

 Hallo gehachte leezer. That is a sentence in Dutch which means ‘hello dear reader. ‘ Something most people are not capable of understanding. The reason for that: lack of multilingualism, a problem caused by education centers unwilling to teach many languages because of the time it would take out of other subjects such as Maths or History.  That leads to controversy among people who defend the idea of monolingualism and those who don´t, but I will explain why an equilibrium between both is the solution.

 Firstly, it´s a common thought that learning more languages at school will decrease the students’ performance in other subjects. However, if a student is willing to take that risk, it shouldn’t be fair for an educational institution to deny them the right to learn that. What they should be doing is figuring out a way to achieve that goal with the minimum cost of performance, because that would widen the students´ opportunities in, for example, applying for a university or traveling around the world.

 Another reason why multilingualism should be limited and monolingualism avoided is to contribute to the relations with other countries. For example, certain economical sectors wouldn´t be available due to low language proficiency, which has been the case in many Asian countries. The main concern about exploiting these possibilities is education, which reinforces the point that mixing both ideas is necessary.

 Lastly, it´s needless to say that learning new languages leads to a more profound base of cultural knowledge thanks to reading varied literature and/or travelling. Therefore, to become a more knowledgeable person in general, multilingualism is an option which should be taken into account.

 In summary, in order to give more opportunities to students while minimalizing the risks, educational centers should try to find a balance between monolinguistic programs and multilinguistic ones.

Jordi L.

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