The Top 5 Benefits of Being Bilingual

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The Top 5 Benefits of Being Bilingual

As Filipinos, most of us already know what it means to be bilingual. We’ve learned English so early on that it feels like it’s also our mother tongue.

As such, foreigners from English-speaking countries find no problems communicating with anyone they meet when they travel to our country. The Philippines has been a favorite tourist destination not just for our well-known hospitality and marvelous beaches, but also for language convenience.

We know firsthand that this bilingual ability has even opened up tons of employment opportunities in the BPO industry.

If you think that it’s all there is to being bilingual, well it’s not. In fact, once you’ve read about the following benefits, you won’t take your bilingual education for granted ever again.

Here are the top benefits of being bilingual:

1. Gives you a fresh perspective

Even if you don’t plan on traveling abroad, being bilingual will help you see the world in new ways and gain a deeper understanding of yourself. Studies suggest that bilinguals see the world differently — in the literal sense. 

Did you know that monolinguals do not notice differences in color patterns that people who frequently speak a second language do?

Furthermore, many people who speak more than one language say that speaking the other language makes them feel “different.” Bilinguals often prioritize different character characteristics depending on which language they are speaking, according to research by a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The professor conducted interviews with adults in Paris who were fluent in both French and Portuguese and discovered that when speaking one language or the other, they behaved differently. In French, one girl sounded like an “angry, trendy suburbanite,” while in Portuguese, the same girl sounded like a “frustrated, yet patient, well-mannered bank customer.”

Researchers also discovered that bilingual participants experienced large levels of “frame-shifting,” or changes in self-perception. When researchers interviewed Hispanic women who spoke both Spanish and English, they discovered that many of them considered themselves to be more assertive when speaking Spanish. When the same ads were seen in English and Spanish, the women had different reactions.

This is probably why we Filipinos can be successful in every corner of the globe — our bilingual ability has given us a wider perspective that has served us in various situations, whether it be professional or personal.

2. Slows down the effects of aging

The advantages of being bilingual last a lifetime, and they’re even particularly valuable in later life. As we age, our cognitive flexibility—our ability to adapt to new or unpredictable situations—decreases, but learning a second language can prevent or substantially postpone this decline.

Studies have shown that bilingualism can improve cognition and delay dementia in older adults, particularly when it comes to general intelligence and reading abilities.

Although bilingualism cannot prevent Alzheimer’s disease, studies indicate that it can delay symptom onset by up to five years. It was discovered that if people with Alzheimer’s disease are monolingual or bilingual, their brains exhibit the same physical degradation. Nevertheless, bilinguals, don’t show the usual signs of Alzheimer’s disease until much later than someone who only speaks one language. These symptoms include memory loss, uncertainty, and problems with problem-solving and planning.

3. Sharpens your problem-solving, multitasking, and decision-making skills

Bilingual children were “significantly more successful” than their monolingual children when it comes to problem-solving and creative activities, according to a study conducted in Scotland and Italy. This is most probably because people who speak more than one language can process information more quickly and easily, as what was found in another research.

Most bilinguals can probably attest that they’re constantly deciding which language to say a word in. This gives them plenty of practice selecting important information while ignoring irrelevant data — which seems to help bilinguals perform better on tasks that include multitasking and distraction avoidance.

In addition, speaking a second language can also assist you in making more informed decisions! According to a study conducted by a group of psychologists at the University of Chicago, forcing people to make choices using a second language decreased their natural biases. The researchers came to the conclusion that learning a foreign language increased cognitive and emotional distance, allowing people to concentrate on facts rather than their own feelings.

So the next time you’re trying to come with a decision, why not harness your bilingual ability and think about it in English — or better yet, in Spanish?

4. Opens up opportunities for bilingual jobs

One of the most exciting benefits of being bilingual is the opportunity to be hired for higher-paying jobs (such as those in the BPO industry). Being able to communicate well in English is already an advantage for us Filipinos, but a third language (Spanish, French, Korean, Japanese, etc.) would definitely increase your employment opportunities, and (most importantly) your salary range!

In the United States, translator and interpreter positions are among the top 15 fastest-growing occupations. This figure excludes employment in the military, which aggressively seeks people with a wide range of language skills.

Other fast-growing fields for bilinguals include healthcare, travel and tourism, and national security. Bilingual workers are likewise still in demand in fields such as journalism, education, and international development. Your bilingual skills can also help you stand out when applying for the Peace Corps or as a Foreign Service Officer.

5. Expands your social and cultural horizons

Being bilingual allows you to communicate with people from different backgrounds and gain a better understanding of another culture’s nuances. This only means you’ll have more chances to make friends, try new hobbies, and gain a better understanding of your favorite international show, film, music, and literature.

When you know the language of the country you’re visiting, travel can be both cheaper and more rewarding. You won’t have to stay in high-priced hotels and restaurants or ride in a tour group. Instead, you can go your own way and experience the country as you wish. Since you won’t have to pay for a foreign-language guide, you’ll be able to visit museums for less, and you’ll have more chances to meet people, converse, and learn about the culture.

And while traveling may be restricted for now, you probably still have that bucket list of places you want to go to. We’re here to tell you that you shouldn’t feel restricted in keeping that list to English-speaking countries. Why not use this time to learn a new language in preparation for when the world opens up again?

Appreciating being bilingual

With these benefits to bilingual education, we can’t help but feel grateful that we have always been exposed to a second language. That said, it might be time to pick out a third (or fourth or more for our polyglots) language to see how it expands your thinking and your way of life!

Watch this space as we unveil our language class offerings soon or contact us to inquire about available tutorial schedules!

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