My first year teaching abroad in Egypt was a dream for me because I was willfully entering a country in which I had minimal knowledge of the language. Even better, the locals spoke a more colloquial version of Arabic than the kind I had practiced in my childhood. I would force myself to go to street markets and local shops to test my ability to implement what I was learning daily. I also enlisted my students and co-workers to talk to me strictly in Arabic so that I could truly understand the phonetics, structure and conjugations.
Oftentimes, I’d tell my students how envious I was of them because they were multilingual, and the idea of speaking many languages was not a part of my upbringing in America. Some of them spoke German and French effortlessly, in addition to English and Arabic. I confided in them the importance of practicing and implementing their knowledge of languages wherever and whenever they got a chance. It was also imperative that I created a similar environment for my own son to learn languages because of the many advantages.
Although knowing one language does not make anyone lesser of a human being, it does separate them from the benefits that come with being multilingual. Based on statistics and much research, being multilingual for the next generation is highly recommended — and here’s why.