Being able to speak a number of languages is always something that people find amazing, even if you know a couple of languages yourself. Mastering various tongues is quite the feat, after all. But there is no denying that being bilingual or multilingual changes people. Though speaking multiple languages is often see as the ultimate plus in this world, there are some cons too!
The pros of being multilingual
One of the advantages I always immediately note about people who speak multiple languages is that they are much more accepting and tolerant of others. Fundamentally, when you can speak to people from a broad range of cultures, you begin to see where the similarities in all humans lie. You can also accept that there are cultural differences and that everyone has an opinion.
Federico Fellini once said, “A different language is a different version of life.” Each language can construct a different version of reality, because every language changes the way you perceive yourself and the world around you.
You can also travel more easily if you know how to interact with multiple cultures. For example, while I am only fluent in English and Japanese, I can also understand written French and Spanish. This has given me not only the ability to adapt to situations better, I can also feel comfortable among a number of cultures.
Plus, you will feel more confident traveling alone if you are capable of understanding multiple languages; and that confidence will make you less of a target for tourist traps.
Another pro of knowing more than one language would be professional opportunities. Whenever you go for an interview, there will be remarks about how impressive it is that you were able to pick up another language, especially if it is one that is not widely known.
Read also – 9 Jobs to Get When You Know Foreign Languages
Not only can you better serve in your occupation if you know two widely spoken languages, you can also delve into translation, interpretation, teaching or tutoring, and ambassadorship.
Lastly, who can deny how sexy it is to be able to converse in multiple languages? Sure, speaking to someone through Google Translate is all well and good, but you can only scratch the surface of human interaction that way. When you can feel the nuance of certain words and dive beneath the typical, textbook meaning, it is a truly alluring thing.
The cons of being bi or multilingual
Basically, there are no real cons to being bi or multilingual, just some problems that can arise. Anyone who speaks more than one language can relate to these tiny nuisances and issues.
I mean, why do people always expect you to break into another language on demand? Or want free translations and interpretations? For example, I love during movies when someone breaks into Japanese and my family says, “So what are they saying?” First of all, there are subtitles.
Second, you begin to find that some words intermingle with other languages. Ever since I started learning French in high school, I could never remember the word for ‘horse.’ And instead of saying ‘horse’ in English, my brain would (and still does) leap to the Japanese word for the animal.
When you make lists, too, you might have a dozen different languages on one sheet of paper. Banana, leche, ほうれん草… You would think my lists are coded.
This brings me to the next point. How frustrating is it when you can’t remember a word in one language or cannot come up with the correct grammar for what you want to say? Sometimes when you get stressed out or nervous, your brain becomes a sieve and loses more advanced grammatical patterns.
Some languages even lack certain ways to describe something, and so you are stuck internally translating something you could easily talk about in one language to another where such words or thoughts do not even exist.
The hardest part, however, would be the fear of losing one of the languages you have worked so hard to attain. Worse, there are times when all you speak is your second or third language, and your native tongue begins to disappear!
But I will not ever tell someone to spend their entire lives monolingual. There is no better time than now to pick up another language!
Dare to know more than one way of thinking and speaking. Having the ability to communicate with people from a culture beyond your native one is such a liberating skill and one that will open your perception.