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2 languages make your brain buff
February 18th, 2011
01:44 PM ET

2 languages make your brain buff

If you had any doubts about exposing your child - or yourself - to a foreign language, there's more evidence than ever that being bilingual has enormous benefits for your brain.

Scientists presented their research supporting this idea Friday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science  annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

As the human body begins its natural decline in old age, bilinguals seem to maintain better cognitive function, said Ellen Bialystok of York University in Toronto, Ontario. This is the case even for people with dementia. Bialystok and colleagues have studied many Alzheimer's patients, both monolinguals and bilinguals. They found that bilinguals were on average four to five years older than monolinguals at comparable points of neurological impairment.

Once Alzheimer's disease begins to compromise the brain, it appears that bilinguals can continue to function even though there’s damaged tissue, she said.

So what's going on? One theory is that language learning is an example of "cognitive reserve." It something that keeps the mind active in the same way as puzzles and games do, and works toward compensating for the build-up of dementia-causing pathology in the brain, Bialystok said.

In terms of starting language learning in middle or old age, the likelihood of becoming truly fluent in a new tongue is low, but it seems that every little bit helps in preventing cognitive decline, she said. And proficiency may be more important than age of acquisition, said Judith Kroll, researcher at Pennsylvania State University, before the conference.

Bilinguals are also better than monolinguals at multitasking, Kroll said. Juggling their languages helps bilinguals ignore irrelevant information and prioritize tasks better than those who only can only speak on tongue, she has found in her research. That makes sense considering that when a bilingual person speaks one language, the other language is still potentially active. That means that speakers of two languages are constantly inhibiting one language in favor of another, which perhaps enhances their overall attentional skills.

Why is it so hard for adults to learn a new language, compared with kids? The answer might not lie entirely in the brain. The social, educational, and other circumstantial conditions are different when an adult gets exposure to language, Bialystok said. As a child, learning a language is pretty much all you do. Adults can't devote as much time or attention to the experience of picking up a new tongue.

"It’s a change we can deal with as adults if there’s sufficient time and opportunity," she said.

Are there any downsides to being bilingual? Babies exposed to two languages throughout pregnancy, or who hear two languages in their first days of life, don’t confuse their languages, said Janet Werker of the University of British Columbia. The scientific evidence suggests bilingual and monolingual kids have similar language development milestones; it appears that children learning two languages do not experience delays in this regard generally.

There is, however, some research suggesting that the competition that’s produced by this mental juggling may introduce a delay in processing. But it’s so small that it’s not something that would be noticeable consciously, Kroll said. It appears that the benefits of being bilingual outweigh the costs.

What are you waiting for? Check out these resources for learning a new language online.


soundoff (184 Responses)
  1. Inmyopinion

    This is insane, how can there be people that have doubts about exposing themselves or their child to a foreign language. I speak, write and can think in 4 languages, my relatives and friends all speak 4 to 7 languages. It's wonderful. Most people in Europe and Asia speak 2 to 3 languages, it's expected of you.

    February 18, 2011 at 14:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Flora

      I think you're forgetting all those dipsticks whining about how America was being taken over by foreign languages. People like you & I see learning new languages as a fun and horizon-expanding experience; other people see their children being exposed to other cultures as a bid to turn them against their country. It's sad, really...

      February 18, 2011 at 16:51 | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      When I was in grade school and high school, I had the misfortune of being in a school district where the thinking seemed that children were too young to learn another language until high school. Even then, I learned Latin. I would have preferred Spanish or some other language I could actually use somewhere. As an adult, I spent enough time living in Indonesia to become fluent in the national language there. There are many languages spoken there (anywhere from 100 to several hundred depending who you ask). I have met people there who could speak two, three, or more languages all fluently. They learned as children. Childhood really is the best time. Even today, my wife still says I have an American accent.

      February 18, 2011 at 19:49 | Report abuse |
    • Jonathan

      @Logan, Have you ever been to Mexico? Go to any city that has a lot of tourism and you'll find that a large portion of the population knows English. Why? Because Americans are too lazy to learn the local language. It goes both ways.

      February 18, 2011 at 19:50 | Report abuse |
    • BackedWithFacts

      @Logan

      Actually statistics have proven that this current wave of immigrants are learning a second language (English) at an even higher rate than that of their parents generation. In fact, this generation is learning English at a rate that is the highest in our nation's history. Just because you don't hear English all day doesn't mean they aren't learning it...

      February 18, 2011 at 19:50 | Report abuse |
    • Truth

      And yet most hispanics, Logan, speak english.

      In fact, I myself am a hispanic - and I speak 4 languages. Including english 🙂 I must say that I agree with both inmyopinion and flora... the state of education in this country when it comes to learning foreign languages is dire. Even with so many spanish speakers living and contributing of their culture to this country, take a look at the number of english speakers who are unable to learn the language even though most schools offer it. Spanish is the language that offers the best chance of immersion in the United States because of the high number of spanish-speaking immigrants in the country and yet, people still can't (or won't) make an effort to pick it up.

      And trust me Logan, its not because spanish speakers won't learn english but because english speakers (not all, but a great number) refuse to learn any language other than english.

      February 18, 2011 at 19:55 | Report abuse |
    • Joe in Colorado

      I simply don't see a point in learning a second language. It's a lot of effort with practically no payoff.

      I do, however, know several computer programming languages.

      February 18, 2011 at 20:14 | Report abuse |
    • Sara

      It is extremely rewarding to learn languages and you can always use them. If you don't, that means you are too lazy to do so. There are infinite things one can do with many languages.

      February 18, 2011 at 21:09 | Report abuse |
    • Lana

      That's awesome! I wished I knew four languages. It's easier if you start at a young age Im 29 I guess I'm too old.

      February 18, 2011 at 21:36 | Report abuse |
    • Croco3

      @Inmyopinion
      One would think this would be a "duh" argument in the 21st! But anyway, this world wouldn't be the same if we never had to fight and argue about the obvious!!

      @Logan
      A young man, or woman, comes from Mexico, or wherever, to the USofA, works a low-end job, with the likes of her, and since it pays close to nothing, they need to work from dawn to dust, 24/7! Trust me, they would sign up for an English class in no time, if their condition allowed. Not speaking the local language in a foreign land, is a handicap that NONE, I mean, no human being, ever chooses to live with!
      At the same time, I bet somewhere in Mexico, or elsewhere, some American (or whoever) is running around yelling at who will listen "Speak English?" "Parlez-vous Français?" and to him or herself: "Goddam it, I need a translator!""

      February 18, 2011 at 22:11 | Report abuse |
    • Bubblepuppy

      Everyone in the world knows English. Why should Americans take the time and effort to learn their language?

      February 18, 2011 at 22:21 | Report abuse |
    • jillybean

      I wish I would have learned other languages when I was younger. I am still fairly young and have taken 2 language classes plus sign language. Anyone use rosetta stone? I think it's important to know other languages.

      February 18, 2011 at 22:58 | Report abuse |
    • rujikin@yahoo.com

      Why should we have to learn a foreign language? Why don't we have the option to learn programming languages -_- they take just as much skill to master and you can get a good job in the future.

      February 18, 2011 at 23:04 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      どういたしまして

      February 18, 2011 at 23:30 | Report abuse |
    • Yug Etihw

      Way back in the 70's I heard ... "If you speak three languages, you're tri-lingual, if you speak two languages, you're bi-lingual, but if you only speak one language, you're an American!!!" I am proud to be an American and proud to be bi-lingual.

      February 18, 2011 at 23:36 | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Of course Europeans learn more than one language – the EU states are the size of the US states – but they all have their own languages. I've been to over 40 states and lived in six of them – from New Jersey to Oregon. If our states all spoke different languages – I would learn those languages. The thing is – if you don't use a language on a regular basis – you lose it or never have a chance to be proficient at it. I have studied, Spanish, French, Italian and Russia – but I can't speak them, although I can read them to a point. I don't have the opportunity to speak them. Canadians, except for Quebec, only really speak English as well. I have friends in Canada – most Canadians DO NOT learn French except for the Quebecois. Except for Mexico, pretty much the entire North American continent speaks one language.

      February 19, 2011 at 02:39 | Report abuse |
    • Diane White

      Now it s a very good example of what Alexander G Bell tried to destroy our ASL education in our Deaf community. I strongly believe it s a great opportunity for Deaf children./students to learn two or more Deaf Foreign Languages. Now I have my strongest reason that our Deaf school should not be closed at all since AGBell/Medical forced us to use our Deaf ears that we hardly understand the spoken languages.. So why bother to destroy our ASL education for so many years that they forced us to speak our deaf voices that you could not always understand us? So why are you trying to force these Deaf babies/children to have the Cochlear implant that is not always successful for them to undersand you? OPEN YOUR EYES before you destroy these Deaf babies/ children s future.

      Medical and Alexander Graham Bell are having those lies about us and our speech impairment and Deaf ears so be it.. All they do is collect the moneymaker off of us and destroy for who we are.. Also they damaged our mental health which means it s physical and mental healths ,. I m kinda surprised how dare hearing people want to fix us that is never gonna to be fix of our being deaf if you must know this?

      February 19, 2011 at 09:52 | Report abuse |
    • One more reason

      If you want your kids to do well on the SAT and boost their reading level...have them study Spanish or Latin or French...the higher-level English words usually have Latin roots. For example, the word "dollar" has Germanic roots but the word "capital" is Latin. The word "fair" is Germanic/Old English but the word "equitable" is Latin.

      In the school system my children attend, foreign language instruction begins in elementary school on a once-a-week basis, but starting in 6th grade, they take language daily. They can even take American Sign Language. Most students choose Spanish.

      February 19, 2011 at 23:06 | Report abuse |
    • Snot Nosed Punk

      Robert,

      Your comment that " Except for Mexico, pretty much the entire North American continent speaks one language" is not quite accurate. Not only does the province of Quebec speaks French (as you mention), but the province of New Brunswick (which is bilingual) and the French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon (near Fortune, Labrador) also speak French.

      February 20, 2011 at 17:14 | Report abuse |
    • chuchingirl

      it's incredible how many people don't think knowing, at least, a second language is an advantage....i was blessed with parents that realized this and they made an extra sacrifice so that i could learn English since early childhood, paying a bilingual school (Spanish being my 1st language) .....as a result, today i've had so many opportunities for jobs/traveling/friends and simply being able to comunicate with so many more people than i would if i only spoke Spanish....i also learned French in undergrad and have been able to have full conversations......it's a matter of expanding your horizons......if you have a baby at a bilingual home, make sure each parent speaks only in one of the languages to the baby (ex. one in English only and the other in Spanish only) and the baby will indeed learn both without problems, given there are no medical/cognitive problems.....there is always an opportunity to grow as a human being

      February 21, 2011 at 07:50 | Report abuse |
  2. Nicholas

    Most linguists will tell you that the brain of a chiild learning a language operates in a fundamentally different way than an adult. Bialystock is a psychologist, not a linguist, and attributing the difference to social factors is incorrect.

    Learning a language as a child is hugely different than as an adult, and this is not necessarily a function of time: adults almost never achieve the level of fluency in a second language that they have in their first: they lack some necessary constructions, and have a persistent "accent". Also, their first language interferes with the new rules that must be learned in the second language. To say that this is not a function of the brain is absurd, and Bialystock is wrong.

    February 18, 2011 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JLS639

      Nicholas, you are misrepresenting what Bialystock said.

      He said the answer "may not be entirely in the brain." He did not suggest that the brain of a child and adult do not learn differently. He was cautioning against attributing all the differences to brain biology.

      February 18, 2011 at 19:03 | Report abuse |
    • Nicholas

      "It’s a change we can deal with as adults if there’s sufficient time and opportunity," to quote Ms. Bialystok. As a trained linguist, most research I have read says this is simply not the case: because the structure of the brain has changed, adults can't achieve the same fluency in SLA (second language acquisition) as in the first language.

      I don't disagree that it is not *entirely* due to brain structure, but she suggests this can be overcome if we just have enough time, and evidence shows this is not true. Native-level fluency in a second language learned after childhood is incredibly rare, while everyone who is mentally competent is able to speak their first language in a very complex way (structurally speaking).

      February 18, 2011 at 19:37 | Report abuse |
    • Jose

      The point here is that mental exercises help the brain become healthier and more powerful. Math, puzzles, brain games, foreign languages, classical music, etc. help the brain gain health and fitness and those who practice and learn will be in better shape than those who don't. That is the ultimate Karma negative on those who mock and bash immigrants and foreign nationals, their accents and their cultures. The multi-linguals are gaining brain power, health and mental fitness while the nativists, anti-immigration bullies, xenophobes, ethnocentrists and racists become dumber and weaker as they age. 🙂

      February 18, 2011 at 20:14 | Report abuse |
    • KC

      Some has to do that children learn by immersion, while adults learn from books and classes. Pick up an adult, put him in some foreign country, take away the crutches like English-language newspapers and English-language cable TV, everything is in the local language, and he'll learn much better/faster than someone who spends an hour a week in a classroom repeating stupid phrases like "la plume de ma tante..." Take it from someone who speaks 4 languages well and enough of a dozen others to get by on vacation.

      February 19, 2011 at 10:30 | Report abuse |
  3. johnnyleen

    At 20 years old I went to live and study in Germany for 3 months. I could only hold a very simple conversation. I lived with a family who absolutely refused to speak English with me. The shopkeepers I encountered only spoke a few halting words due to the time period (pre-internet and cable tv). It was extremely difficult, but by the end of the summer, I could hold my own in conversations, watching tv, etc. When I was in my 40's I began attending a Swedish language school every summer in Uppsala. While I'll never speak Swedish as well as I do German, it's been great re-experiencing the whole process.

    February 18, 2011 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • OCGuy

      Why do you think it was lack of internet and cable-TV which kept Germans from speaking much English decades ago? Now that we have worldwide internet and cable-TV, do you find everyone in the USA speaking German?

      February 18, 2011 at 21:31 | Report abuse |
    • Ms_Sdak

      I was stationed in Germany years ago and the first thing I was taught was that the Germans believed in "When in Rome do as the Romans do." So even though Germans are required to take 4 years of English in school, most refuse to answer or talk English until YOU make an attempt to speak German. Some not even then. You ARE in their country after all.

      Think of it this way: Do you like the fact that most Mexicans expect you to understand Spanglish?

      February 18, 2011 at 21:31 | Report abuse |
    • johnnyleen

      @ocguy: the reason they didn't speak English decades ago was because they weren't exposed to it on a daily basis. And although people did study English, they didn't have the opportunities to speak it. Now because of cable TV and the internet, younger Germans are exposed to English much more and therefore have a better mastery of it than when I lived there. In fact, the summer after my exchange program, I got a summer job in a bank there. All of the people in my department were college students and only one of them could put together a decent sentence in English.

      February 20, 2011 at 11:59 | Report abuse |
  4. Nana

    I speak 6 with a 7th lost to me in the mists of time. We spent a year in Europe when I was about 5 and I went to school in Amsterdam at the Montessori School. By the end of the year I was bilingual and I remember the sensation of a "shift" in my head when I switched languages. I started Spanish at 10 (actually a bit late in the window of opportunity) and I am asked frequently what country I'm from, despite somewhat imperfect (but improving) grammar and an occasional dearth of words. In my 30s, I acquired French (drop me in the French countryside with a dictionary and I'd be fine; drop me in Madrid, no dictionary required). At 37 or so, I acquired enough Hebrew to pray and sing with everybody. At 45 I tackled Russian–boy is it complex but purely gorgeous. Drop me in Russia at a language school and I'd be fine in 6 months. Sadly, my Italian teacher passed away, but hey, that's a Romance language and I was being used as an example of how to do it right in class (folks were peeved, but I tried to explain that this was my 6th and that makes it a bit easier). I would spend the rest of my life learning languages if I could. A multilingual Russian Jewish friend told me of a quote by Spinoza–"Every new languages opens up a new soul in your heart." You will never truly understand a people unless you speak at least some of their language. If United Stateseans were to learn languages like the rest of the world, could we then possibly become more fully members of this planet? 🙂

    February 18, 2011 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mark

      ever considered that though we know many languages we do not master even one.

      February 18, 2011 at 19:27 | Report abuse |
    • EmeraldCity

      This is a beautiful post.

      February 18, 2011 at 19:53 | Report abuse |
    • P.

      'Nana' wrote at 17:43:

      '...Russian–boy is it complex but purely gorgeous.'

      Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!

      February 18, 2011 at 20:23 | Report abuse |
    • PurplePanda

      Wish we could "Like" this post. Very well written.

      February 18, 2011 at 20:32 | Report abuse |
    • Yum!

      Agree with everything you said, Nana! Although I was born in the U.S., English was not my first language, and I suspect that's why it's been a bit easier for me to pick up others – I now speak 4 languages well enough to translate between them (2 fluently), can read 6, and am working on learning 2 more (it's still a lot of hard work). I truly think my life has been so much richer for it. It's easier to understand other cultures when you understand their language, and in turn it allows you a greater and more objective understanding of your own. I think that the reason many people don't bother, or maybe start and then give up, is that, as I said, it's a lot of hard work at the beginning. It can be frustrating and seem hopeless. But it's hard work that eventually pays off a thousandfold.

      February 18, 2011 at 21:53 | Report abuse |
    • nichtsoduemm10

      Nana-United Stateans-exactly what i say....you are my new best friend....yo tambien tuve la oportunidad de vivir en espana pa un verano, pero mis padres son guatemaltecos, pero he aprendido Deutsch y un poco del Francais

      February 18, 2011 at 22:17 | Report abuse |
    • global citizen

      I agree that speaking foreign languages is important. We are far behind the world on it. We should start teaching foreign languages in elementary schools like the rest of the world, but instead we eliminate it from middle schools, and some rural areas do not even offer it at all. It is laughable and very sad! I speak 3 languages fluently and love it, it is like combining 3 worlds in me. Many people around the world value and speak other languages more than we do. I am very proud of my American husband, who speaks fluently 3 languages just like me, but we lived in Europe. Now we live here, have 2 kids, and there is no opportunity to take any foreign language at school. They both are bilingual, but we want for them to know more languages and start learning it now, but there are no opportunities available, and if there is one, then it would be only Spanish for mostly Spanish speaking children. How about other beautiful languages? How about starting it at the early age? We should not underestimate languages like that, we should learn new languages, enrich our world, travel, make friends, explore and understand another culture through the language, then world will not label us as "ignorant" Americans, and there won't be enemies, just friends.

      February 18, 2011 at 22:25 | Report abuse |
    • Kitty

      As a native russian speaker I will tell you with uttermost certainty that you are not going to speak russian after 6 months from the date of you having been dropped there, as you put it. Read my lips – it is not an easy language to learn to speak, read or write.

      February 19, 2011 at 01:21 | Report abuse |
    • Suzanne

      Very true – I lived in Brazil for 10 years and once I had learned Portuguese well enough to think and dream in it, it was like my whole perception shifted.

      February 19, 2011 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
  5. Ruth

    Someone once told me that every language you speak makes you another person. That's so true. It opens up so many opportunities. Everyone in my family speaks at least two languages fluently. My mother is fluent in four and understands three others.

    February 18, 2011 at 17:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. JennyTX

    I'm so glad I'm raising my kids bilingual! I speak to them exclusively in Spanish, and they get English everywhere else. They are both very smart and very good students. Their friends admire their ability to speak Spanish.

    February 18, 2011 at 19:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. someoneelse

    There are definitive cognitive and meta linguistic benefits to second language learning, but they are not near as large as what is said in this article. Also, it's hard to raise a child in a second language if there is no positive reinforcement of that language and not enough practice (i.e. even pure immigration programs such as the ones in Canada are not effective if there is little practice outside of the classroom). Also, while it's not a good thing, our schools should probably be focusing on basic literary and math skills in one language (even though a second language helps with the L1 literacy, it does hold back the other skills).

    February 18, 2011 at 19:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • OCGuy

      As a kid of overseas-American parents, I developed my math and literary skills across several different languages every couple of years. Greek-speaking gradeschool in Athens Greece, French-speaking one in Switzerland, French again in Vietnam, English-speaking in New York, then German-speaking in Switzerland again. Now I'm in my 50s and never had math or literary problems. On the contrary, I'm more adept at those subjects than mono-lingual friends are.

      February 18, 2011 at 21:37 | Report abuse |
  8. Farai

    I'm originally from Zimbabwe and like the overwhelming majority of people there i speak two languages fluently. I started learning French during my undergraduate studies and now i am keen to perfect it.

    Learning different languages opens doors, professionally, socially and introduces one to new literature and a different outlook. After French i will attempt to learn Mandarin.

    February 18, 2011 at 19:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LividEmerald

      Apres le francais, le mandarin ? Helas, cela ne me plait pas de devoir l'avouer, mais c'est peut-etre une bonne idee apres tout. I only speak two languages. I can't seem to remember the other one. But I do know a few words in Spanish. Perhaps if I could pronounce the Spanish r and b/v, I would pursue that language. Mais bon, j'aurai toujours une preference pour le francais, langue preferee pour la lecture. It's fun reading Poe or D.H. Lawrence first in one langauge, et puis dans l'autre.

      February 18, 2011 at 20:08 | Report abuse |
    • OCGuy

      Mais "Les Fleurs du Mal" de Baudelaire ne va pas du tout bien en anglais, lol.

      February 18, 2011 at 21:39 | Report abuse |
    • Bubblepuppy

      Wow! I am impressed. My French is restricted to "croissant" and "L'Oreil". I definitely need a refresher course.

      February 18, 2011 at 22:16 | Report abuse |
    • VaughnSC

      Fluently bilingual, and a practical polygot here:

      @Livid – Not that you asked (sorry!) but the Spanish b/v are identical the English 'hard' b, but even I catch myself voicing the latter's softer fricative v in Spanish (I learned English and Spanish side by side), but its not a 'dealbreaker' (will never cause you to be misunderstood.)

      The r is different between English and French, but not so much so in Spanish UNLESS it's spelled 'rr' which indeed is 'trilled/warbled'. Just think of saying Grrrr the way a dog grrrrowls and and thats pretty much all there is to it as long as you avoid stretching it out (just enough so the vibrato is evident, unless done for comic effect) 🙂

      Néanmoins (nevertheless) the more 'aspirated' French R... is a complete 'diffehrhent stohrhy'

      Immersion is the ticket; my French always recovers any lost ground after a few weeks in Paris, alas, just in time to départir. 🙂

      February 26, 2011 at 13:55 | Report abuse |
  9. mc

    You obviously have a flawed logic. Probably stereotypical and racist too.

    February 18, 2011 at 19:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Tyhouston

    Know whats wonderful? Allowing a kid to pick in a school WHAT language they want. Not just Spanish because it's close to the boarder.

    You know what is great? Immigrants learning the language of the land. And communicating with everyone like they should. France demands you learn french and gives you the boot if you don't.

    February 18, 2011 at 19:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • justice for all

      "border" not "boarder" – at least learn your English well if that's all you are going to master

      February 18, 2011 at 21:40 | Report abuse |
    • Bubblepuppy

      Dang. Try being fluent in English before tackling a foreign language.

      February 18, 2011 at 22:13 | Report abuse |
    • VaughnSC

      @Justice: Maybe, maybe not – they might actually have a hispanic 'boarder' living with them 😀

      February 26, 2011 at 13:58 | Report abuse |
  11. Juan H

    LOL..all the gool ole boy and girls that complain when people speak other languages are just plain old jealous! You speak one language...big deal! LOL!!

    February 18, 2011 at 20:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Josh

    I think these benefits may also apply to someone who knows computer programming and music as well. I'm a semi-professional musician who started studying music in 4th grade. I learned to speak, read, and write Spanish fluently in high school because I thought it was fun. I also began learning computer programming in high school for fun, namely C++, HTML, and Visual Basic. I went on to learn a basic understanding of Korean after high school, as well as the binary and hexadecimal number systems, and still strive to build on all of these, as well as starting to learn Python.

    February 18, 2011 at 20:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kevin J

      Josh, you're a nerd! I mean that in they nicest way possible! 😉

      February 18, 2011 at 21:08 | Report abuse |
  13. CStoner

    At 67 and bilingual, 'tis good to know that there's hope for my future thinking processes! My three children are also bilingual because they were born in Brazil and lived there till college. My 38 years gave me great opp. to learn, speak and teach in Port. well, but I will never speak without accent, as my children do. They have the 'jeito'!

    February 18, 2011 at 20:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. sqeptiq

    That it is beyond you is no surprise. I suspect a lot of things are beyond you based upon that racist post.

    February 18, 2011 at 20:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Karen

    I think it's kind of fun when you can think in two different languages. In one language, there is no past tense or future tense as in Chinese. In Englsih, there are. When I translate for my parents, I translate as fast as I hear the English. It's good mental gymnastics for your brain. I'm not kidding.

    February 18, 2011 at 21:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Julien

    When I first read the caption, I was like cool. When I saw a picture of a father and a child and found out they were Asian, not cool. Am I the only one that got this impression?

    February 18, 2011 at 21:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • T3chsupport

      Do you have something against Asians?

      February 19, 2011 at 10:13 | Report abuse |
  17. Karen

    Being able to speak Chinese Mandarin gives me the opportunity to be friends with at least 1 billion more people in the world.

    February 18, 2011 at 21:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Kevin J

    well now, this does explain why there are so many dumb (unilingual) anglos out there! doesn't it?

    February 18, 2011 at 21:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • someoneelse

      Yes, because it's fine to put down white anglo saxons (especially of the male variety), isn't it? The current trend of the country actually. How do people expect Americans to learn another language when they actually don't need to (just as others don't have to learn computer languages, which would be more useful in today's world) and there is no positive reinforcement of their L2 (second language) nor any opportunities for many to practice outside their schools?

      February 18, 2011 at 21:13 | Report abuse |
    • Beth

      @someonelse, maybe if Americans would visit other parts of the world and experience life outside of this country, they'd see the value in knowing multiple languages. I sincerely regret not trying harder to learn a language in high school when I had the opportunity, because I, too, didn't see the value in it. Having visited 3 other continents now, developing an appreciation for learning about the rest of the world, and feeling like I came off as arrogant by speaking only English when in other countries, I've decided to start trying to learn another language. I'm currently working on Swahili since I plan on spending time in Kenya at least once a year for the foreseeable future. I recommend finding a place to visit and learning the language there. There's a whole exciting world out there waiting for Americans to realize it exists.

      February 18, 2011 at 22:23 | Report abuse |
  19. janet

    What do you call a person that speaks only 1 language?

    An American!!!!

    February 18, 2011 at 21:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kelley

      🙂 Funny!

      But, I have to say when I lived in Europe, I was surprised at how many people didn't speak English or any other language for that matter. There's a difference between being able to speak a language fluently and saying, "I speak French, English and German" because you studied it in school for 7 years. That doesn't make someone multi-lingual though in my opinion.

      I actually think A LOT of Americans are bilingual. There are many Chinese speakers, Spanish speakers, Polish speakers, etc. that are Americans. I think we put ourselves down too much, but I do think schools could do a better job of offering more languages at an earlier age.

      Just my opinion 🙂

      February 18, 2011 at 22:54 | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      I find that to be a truly ludicrous statement. I am American. I speak three languages. I am a black American male. A person who speaks only one language is a monolingual.

      February 19, 2011 at 10:23 | Report abuse |
  20. cicigreen

    I hope I can be expose to that environment when I was a kid..try sisizhao+com or cicelyzhao+com

    February 18, 2011 at 21:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Klw

    Oh I wish I was fluent in another language so I could write a huge self-aggrandizing paragraph about it! Darn!

    February 18, 2011 at 21:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kelley

      It's never too late! 🙂

      February 18, 2011 at 22:56 | Report abuse |
    • X

      The point that they are trying to make is that it's worth it to learn, write, or speak another language. I could write a long paragraph about myself as well, but as you pointed out, it would serve no purpose.

      I would also like to say that it distinctly says that children who speak more than one language aren't behind when it comes to language milestones. My entire extended family raises children who speak 3 or more languages. They are not delayed in communication nor social skills.

      February 19, 2011 at 00:54 | Report abuse |
    • Klw

      I just want it to be clear that "I speak x number of languages" is not a helpful comment. If you're going to brag, you should at least have an excuse to do so, and using it to belittle individuals who haven't been exposed to secondary languages as if they are somehow stupid (as some on this board have done) is even worse.

      February 19, 2011 at 01:34 | Report abuse |
  22. Brad Whalen

    At 25 I decided to take the plunge and learn a second language while I was in college. I picked Chinese (Mandarin). Learning Chinese is what amounts something I like to call "Academic Masochism." it is hard, but I loved it so much I spent a year living in Shanghai and enhanced my skills a bit. Now I am about to graduate with a Business degree and would love an international job that would allow me to go back to China or Taiwan and get even better!

    Why Chinese you ask? As a Business major I took a hard look at the world today and is seemed like a relevant investment in my time and will hopefully pay off in the future.
    中文很难, 不过我喜欢学习难的东西。也我可以说话比写更好。 :)

    February 18, 2011 at 21:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bruce Lee

      Less clumsy way to say your second sentence:

      我說話比寫字好。

      If you want to use "also" (也) it goes after 我 not before. 更 is redundant because 比 already conveys the comparison.

      February 20, 2011 at 15:47 | Report abuse |
  23. Juan

    Rob, how sad that you are so full of hate. Filthy mexican language? How do you know it is if you wish to remain ignorant about a language that is both beautiful and alive? Mexicans attacked the USA twice? That was not in my history book in high school or college. It's all in your hate filled mind I bet.

    February 18, 2011 at 22:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • someoneelse

      Well, I agree he is probably hate filled but Mexico did attack twice and collaborated with the Germans to attack in WWI (and possibly WWII, though that one is not as certain).

      February 18, 2011 at 22:04 | Report abuse |
    • Kelley

      Spanish, including the variety spoken in Mexico, is one of the most beautiful, richest languages in the world. Me encanto Espanol!

      February 18, 2011 at 22:57 | Report abuse |
    • kas

      Yes, but the Americans invaded Mexico until they reached Mexico City! In the City, there's a famous monument called "Children Heros" which was a military elementary school (like a boarding school) that the American army attacked, killing all of the mostly unarmed children. Although it's impossible to know all of the truth of history, I think if we could we'd find that U.S. foreign policy towards Mexico has been pretty belligerent.

      Also, the time that Mexico "attacked" that you're referring to must be during the Mexican-American war, no? President Polk, an expansionist, had declared on the night of his inauguration that his goal as president was to get and take California, but first he needed to provoke a war so he could legitimately do it in "self-defense." (He wasn't alone in wanting this, this was during the "manifest destiny" days and there were plenty of land hungry speculators, both within and outside of Washington). He ordered General Taylor and the army to the Rio Grande, a kind of unofficial U.S.-Mexico border in the hope of provoking Mexico to attack (in what would, ironically, be more realistically self-defense: having an army hanging out across your boarder isn't exactly friendly). But Mexico wasn't having it, and after of weeks of camping out in full war mode, the president got impatient. He ordered the invasion of Mexico based on alleged money disputes and because Mexico had rejected the U.S.' choice of negotiator. Very luckily, just a short time later Mexico did attack, which legitimized the fully-mobile army to invade. And they did, killing and plundering all the way to Mexico City and later claiming what was roughly half of Mexican territory for themselves, thus expanding the great American motherland- to the later tragedy of all the Native Americans who had peacefully been living there under Mexico's flag. (Not a war of expansion, though! Nothing like Hitlar wanted to do!)

      Another interesting part of this war is that the U.S. gov't didn't stop in screwing over foreigners. Many of those who fought were paid in land (which was conveniently thousands of miles away from their homes and families), but were so sick, wounded, or broke by the end of fighting that they had to sell it fast to feed increasingly impoverished loved ones. Luckily, there were land speculators (mostly good friends of Washington lawmakers and generals, if not the lawmakers and generals themselves) who were right there and ready to buy low and sell high, making a fortune for themselves and leaving the soldiers with little more than their injuries and years lost. It's nice to know that the U.S. gov't didn't mind selling out poor, idealistic farm boys to fight in foreign lands in order to line their own pockets and those of their friends. Good thing it never happened again...

      Anyways, a little interesting (and unflattering) U.S. history...

      February 18, 2011 at 23:32 | Report abuse |
  24. Vince

    I agree with Joe. I don't see the point of learning other languages. Learning one language really well, to write and speak intelligently is much more important. A lot of people cannot write or speak well. Very few people can do it well in their second language. Making small talk in a second language is not much of an accomplishment.

    February 18, 2011 at 22:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Yum!

      It's true that a lot of people can't write well. One glance at the comments section on any web site will tell you that. But I'm not sure where you're getting the information that "Very few people can do it well in their second language." I assume you're thinking of people who might pick up a few words in another language in order to go on a vacation, or maybe took a required class or two in junior high or high school. That doesn't count as "bilingual". Probably people who aren't very good at their own native language are never going to excel in a second language, that's true, but I suspect those are the very people who are on this board saying, "I don't see any point in learning another language."

      February 20, 2011 at 22:07 | Report abuse |
  25. Klw

    If every state or couple of states in the United States spoke a different language (similar geopolitical situation to Western Europe), I'm sure I would know a good handful of them. People living in unilingual areas tend not to learn other languages because they will most likely never have to use them; it doesn't mean they are stupid.

    February 18, 2011 at 22:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. shelly sloop

    From all the post I gather: Americans=dumb and Rest of World=Incredibly Wonderful. I do enjoy all the ego stroking, though! Quite entertaining to say the least.

    February 18, 2011 at 22:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • T3chsupport

      Don't just take these posters' word for it, go look at how much we suck at everything else compared to most other civilized countries. No ego stroking required.

      February 19, 2011 at 10:24 | Report abuse |
    • Klw

      @T3chsupport: Indeed. Comparing the United States the the rest of the world economically, scientifically, culturally, and militarily reveals heavily lopsided results. And all this using one language.

      February 19, 2011 at 15:55 | Report abuse |
    • Arjay

      TYVM you\'ve svloed all my problems

      December 25, 2011 at 02:47 | Report abuse |
    • fqamgwggszl

      xWF7Vs qsnycuzeasam

      December 25, 2011 at 11:19 | Report abuse |
    • dbtkriupm

      kj7hpn hntqorrguetw

      December 28, 2011 at 07:41 | Report abuse |
  27. Marl

    Since I was not planning on going to college, the junior high and high school folks said I couldn't take a foreign language. I learned Hebrew as a child but at 8 years old had no one to speak with - so all I remembered into adulthood was the alphabet - which did help me to read some signs when in Israel. The problem being that being able to read does not mean knowing what the words mean.

    I took Spanish in adult ed and also had no one with whom to speak ... same with ASL.

    My mom came to the USA knowing at least 5 languages but they were not allowed to speak anything but English ... so most languages disappeared.

    Nothing more ignorant than a country that thinks global and then treats the children in their education system like idiots.

    It was amazing to be in Israel and Germany and to hear so much English ... however, I was left out of their cultures because I couldn't speak their languages.

    Sad ... very sad.

    BTW, does President Obama, his wife, of their children speak other languages??

    February 18, 2011 at 22:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • greekamerican

      America is a melting pot of all the cultures of the world. E Pluribus Unum

      February 18, 2011 at 22:43 | Report abuse |
    • Bruce Lee

      marl: "My mom came to the USA knowing at least 5 languages but they were not allowed to speak anything but English"

      Not allowed by whom? By her parents? It's been my experience that immigrants to teh US lose native language ability due to lack of use, not coercion. I'm not as proficient in Chinese as my parents (who knew multiple Chinese languages in addition to Mandarin), and my children certainly will have no Chinese proficiency at all unless I send them to others to be trained.

      February 20, 2011 at 15:55 | Report abuse |
  28. Chris

    Hey Logan, and Joe In Colorado!!! Your ignorant and probably members of that tribe of the setting sun known as angry middle class white men who thought they simply deserve everything they were born into. Wake up dudes, the world is no longer catering to your whims, and dancing to your music anymore. Learning a second language like English, or French, has been the part of just about every other developed, and in many cases 3rd world culture for a very long time. You can go to a nomadic village of fishermen who build their houses on stilts on the water off the coast of Indonesia and find about 3rd of these people who can communicate in English, and the kids who want to speak it. The science proves that the human brain wires up all its nuerons and synapyss largely by 3 years old, and the language acquisition portion is programmed for multiple language learning, but this ability rapidly starts decreasing about 8 years old and then dramatically as teanagers. Humans are designed to acquire languages and communicate in multiple modems, its our DNA as no other creature on earth has. To deny multiple language learning, and argue the point as some ignorant "mono-linguist americans" do is simply ridiculous

    February 18, 2011 at 22:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Heywood

    I speak 45 languages, and everyone should be like me. I demand my child learn multiple languages, not speaking English at home, and I don't care that my child is falling behind the other English-speaking kids in communication and social skills.

    February 18, 2011 at 22:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Laura

      what languages do you speak? That many is unheard of to me.

      March 2, 2012 at 09:58 | Report abuse |
  30. MAKINGLOVE

    I know what else can make your brain buff.... 😉

    February 18, 2011 at 22:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. MAKELOVENOTWAR

    I know what else can make your brain buff 😉

    February 18, 2011 at 22:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. KnockinonHeaven'sDoor

    The doors of learning a second language are ALWAYS open in America...you just have to know where to knock!

    February 18, 2011 at 22:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Kelley

    There is a benefit in learning any language at any age. I was 18 when I learned to speak German. This gave me confidence going forward to pick up Spanish. After I had learned German, a "pattern" seemed to be in my brain which made language learning much easier. I have also studied numerous other languages. They are amazing. It's like having a key. When you say something, there's a reaction. Your brain is opened up to new ideas/feelings/depth of emotion that may not be available verbally in your mother tongue. I think a lot of people have problems with Hispanics or any other non-English speakers because they simply don't understand and there's an insecurity that goes along with that. I understand the annoyance of people coming into a country illegally and then not wanting to learn the language–it is rude in my opinion, but the black and white truth is if you don't speak Spanish and English in this country in 20 years, good luck finding a good job.

    February 18, 2011 at 22:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Observer

    It is not accurate to say that adults cannot become fluent in a second language or several languages. In respect to the issue of "accent", there are several factors at work. Some adults are naturally good at mastering the phonetics of a new language. Other adults are not. All adults can greatly improve their phonetic performance with with the help of a trained coach. People who learn English as a first language do have a bit of a handicap in learning the phonetics of some other languages because the vowel phonetics of American English are a little out of the ordinary– this also may present problems for people learning to pronounce American English. The key thing, however, in language learning, is to go out and do it- not worry too much about accent- and accept the fact that it will require some effort. Most adults can learn enough to function if they take the effort seriously. Adults have been doing this for thousands of years.

    February 18, 2011 at 22:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Klw

    My what a nest of preening pigeons we have here.

    February 18, 2011 at 22:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kelley

      I'm guessing you write this because you speak one language and you think everyone is bragging. I'm sorry you feel that way, but I don't feel like I'm bragging. Learning a second language as an adult is hard work. It was an accomplishment for me (personally) just like graduating college or anything else you work hard for. The process of learning a language is grueling, confusing, embarrassing at times, exhausting and time consuming.

      People talking about their language abilities is more of fact than bragging. I speak 3 languages. It's a fact. I worked hard for it and I'm not going to hide it.

      However, and I can only speak for myself, I don't look down on anyone else that only speaks one language. Nor do I think I'm super awesome in any way. It was a tough, rewarding journey and I look back on that time fondly (as many others may also, which can lead people to write too much–they have the passion). I happen to love languages and I can learn them easily. On the flip side of that, I am horrible at math and this prevented me from passing the GRE to get into grad school. Math is a "language" I don't understand at all and I am amazed at people that get it so easily.

      So, as you can see, some things I'm good at and other things I'm not. I'm sure it's the same for everyone else.

      February 20, 2011 at 11:05 | Report abuse |
  36. LAC

    My (English speaking) children attend a dual language program in Los Angeles, where they are becoming bi-literate and bi-lingual in Spanish/English. I think that there is great value in giving my children the gift of another language. I think it will give them more opportunities in life and has the potential to make them better citizens of the world. Though many people insist that English is the language of our country, they seem to forget that if we insist on English only and neglect to learn to speak with others' in their own languages, we are crippled when it comes to being able to engage in conversations with the rest of the world.

    February 18, 2011 at 23:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. morgan painter

    I was born in 1949. As a kid, I used to imitate the accents of people on TV. Ricardo Montalban (Spanish), and Yves Montand (French) are two I can remember at will. I had no idea it would help me in high school where I took Spanish. The teacher was surprised I could learn the correct pronunciation so quickly.

    At age 47 I planned a trip to Germany and Switzerland. A friend from work helped with study and I listened to cassette tapes at home and in the car. After only a few weeks my friend was impressed I could pronounce the German words correctly. When I arrived at the resort to check in, I used my best German and the man at the desk was surprised to learn I was American when he looked at the paperwork. He said my accent sounded as if I came from southern Germany. That is where my friend from work had grown up. Most English speakers never learn to pronounce words like 'zwanzig' correctly or 'schoen'. It isn't natural for them.

    I am certain the only reason it was easy for me to learn at an age past 40 was simply because I had practiced "other" sounds as a child. So early exposure to more then one language is a very good thing, even if one doesn't use the skills on a daily basis. Perhaps it prevents the brain from being locked in one speech pattern.

    Some friends from Italy and Germany had such a thick accent they were hard to understand. They never broke out of the speech pattern of their native language. This study is further proof that when it comes to the brain, "use it or lose it".

    February 18, 2011 at 23:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Q

    I mean i'm only 16 years old and i already know 4 languages and i can read, write, and think in them all. Learning other languages is very very rewarding, one of the best things for anyone who wants to learn something practical and fun.

    February 18, 2011 at 23:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Nick

    The U.S. is not the only country where the majority speak only one language.

    And the reason why most Americans speak only English is because English is the international main language, and all people around the world communicate with each other in English.

    However, it is good to know a second language. I myself speak 3 fluent, and learning French now.

    February 18, 2011 at 23:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Kitty

    One cannot be a true bilingual if the second language is not spoken at home. You can't raise a bilingual child if one if the parents doesn't speak that other language. Whatever you learn in school or college is a foreign language that you only have a limited knowledge of. Doesn't make you bilingual.

    February 19, 2011 at 01:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Robert

      Actually, Kitty, it does. There are three categories to bilingualism. Compound bilingual, Coordinate bilingual and a sub group, Subordinate bilingual. Depending on how you think through the language in your mind (severely paraphrased), multilingual fit into one of these categories. I might highly recommend refraining from comments you don't know the answer to. As I know of many people who are considered truly fluent in a second language (Compound bilingual) that never spoke the second language at home.

      February 19, 2011 at 04:54 | Report abuse |
  41. Zippy

    I think there is a host/guest relationship whether implied or spoken. This means that when you are invited into someones home you do your best to speak their language whether asked to or not. And what would your host think if you showed up at their home and would not even try to communicate on their terms? Wouldn't you expect to be asked to leave, even forced? I don't know who is more frightened of learning a second language, Hispanics, or Americans. But Americans, when you go to a Spanish speaking country... try to speak Spanish... And people from Hispania, please try to learn English when you come to America. The attempt will endear you to your host even if you can not speak it well. And you can't speak it well without a few errors. It's okay. At least you tried, and your host will be happier for it.
    Personally I speak American English and German well. I am working on my Spanish. I know a little Polish, Romainian, and French. It hasn't killed me and that's saying something...
    Do you know German? English German words are Kindergarten (garden of children), Spiel (to play or a game [and yes, you have to spiel a spiel... that's what a spiel is for]), and the list goes on... Spanish German words are tase (cup), cafe (coffee), and this list goes on... many of the words you already know in the latin language group, you have already learned in your own language. Now it is only a puzzle on how to place them correctly. It's no big deal. I'm 53 and I can do it... if you spent more time trying to learn as than trying to get out of it you would already be fluent in 15 languages and would amaze your friends world wide.

    February 19, 2011 at 02:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Robert

    It reminds me of a cheesy, yet oh-so-true poster I used to stare at in my high school Spanish room-

    "When you learn another language, the world isn't so big"

    Like I said, cheesy. But 15 years later and 4 languages down, that poster has never failed to prove true. Some of the greatest people I've ever had the chance to meet spoke no English. Had I not learned their mother tongue, I would have missed an opportunity to meet these incredible people.

    February 19, 2011 at 04:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Dave

    Do your part to upset a tea bagger today. Learn another language and speak it.

    February 19, 2011 at 07:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. The_Mick

    Related things like learning to play sheet music at sight or, even better, being able to sight-sing (hear the notes in your head or sing on pitch from the sheet music), is great for the mind.

    February 19, 2011 at 08:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Adolfo Muniz

    here in the USA I don't understand why but the majority of people have a certain phobia against foreign langauges and most are not even interested of ever even trying to learn another one.
    I can speak, read and think in four languages and I can understand four others without thinking in them. It's beautiful. The experience of being able to listen to a song in another language and enjoy it is pure pleasure. i feel awesome when i am able to understand other people and have conversations with them. Your scope and area of influence broadens. if you speak only one language you can only speak to a limited portion of mankind. Learn another language, start today!!

    February 19, 2011 at 10:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Tony

    What do you call a person who speaks two languages? – Bilingual
    What do you call a person who speaks more than two languages? – Multilingual
    What do you call a person who speaks only one language? – American

    I am glad everyone (yes, that includes me) in my family speaks at least two languages.

    February 19, 2011 at 12:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. bill in queens

    I taught myself Spanish in my late 20s through lots of tapes, self-study, and trips to Mexico. My Spanish is not fluent but certainly conversational. I learned French in my 30s through the best – or maybe the worst way – with a French girlfriend. (Girlfriend is gone but at least the language is still there.) Now I'm in my 40s and I'm learning Chinese. I'm not convinced it's easier to learn a 2nd language when you're a child unless of course it's the language your family speaks. It's just different – in your adult years there are a lot more internal barriers – time, discipline, not wanting to appear foolish when you bungle the word for Please over and over. But there are a lot of advantages to learning a language when you're older too. And whoever thinks it's a waste of time to learn a second language is probably one of those persons who is happy sitting on their couch and never traveling or leaving their hometown. Well good luck to you – the rest of us will get out and experience the world. I've been to 45 countries and never regretted a penny spent. And I grew up in a town of 1500 people in the Midwest.

    February 19, 2011 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. eman

    During my undergraduate days,I belonged to a student organisation that promotes international student internship-AIESEC.When communicating with a potential intern to come to my country,letters with a phrase or sentence in the interns native language got more response than the one do not.
    My point being that language is the key to the heart.
    I am learning spanish now.It's kinda fun and my spanish friend thinks I've got the accent.
    I guess it's because I immitated accents as a child like somebody commented.

    February 19, 2011 at 19:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Bob Bennett

    I went to a very 'upper crusty' US northeast boarding school, where latin and at least one other language was required. I took French, and then to escape 'religious studies' i took greek ( 'ancient', not contemporary).
    Learning another language teaches many, many important lessons, that aren't immediately apparent. Like...the tongue we speak defines our thoughts, in many ways.
    A word in french has an english equivalent.. "sort of'... but only 'sort of'. The difference is subtle, but not missed by the french... or the english speakers. Learning another language has much, much to do w/ understanding other cultures. We are the same, in many ways... but rather different in others. we need to appreciate both/ all/ everything.
    Learning how another language 'defines/describes' things is infinitely informative, enlightening.
    Having said that? Latinos coming to the USA need to ... learn some english!!!

    February 19, 2011 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Nik

    In many countries around the world, the ones who speak a foreign language have many more doors of opportunity open to them. The elite of their society, political, financial, or artistic, speak at least one foreign language almost with no exception. The ones who don't speak another language often belong to a "second" class, with few exceptions.

    Many Americans (from USA) don't see the point of learning a foreign language. To United Stateseans, USA, has been their world. Less than 10% of the American own a passport to travel the world. With the amazing shifts in the world economy, for both good and bad, the Americans who don't speak a second language will naturally become the "second class" citizens of this country.

    You don't learn a new language because other people may not speak English. You learn a new language to relate and connect with the world's people and culture better. I remember reading a quote from the great philosopher, Spinoza once: "Every new languages opens up a new soul in your heart."

    I, just like many here, remember experiencing a gradual "shift" in the ways I was experiencing and viewing things when I learned my first language. And the same when I learned my third. It is hard to get unilinguals understand this experience, just as is it hard to explain chocolate to someone who has never tried one.

    The only way is to know is to experience it.

    If you truly enjoy learning to study a new language from the get-go you are blessed. But you don't have to. I don't. BUT, you WILL get to love it once you have studied it for a while and get to the point where you understand certain words here and there....

    JUST TAKE THE FIRST STEP AND REGISTER FOR A LOCAL CLASS! Use programms like Rosetastone as a tool, but it is way more fun to lean with others.

    February 19, 2011 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
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