Pros and Cons of Being Multilingual

various languages

Everybody knows that speaking several languages is an advantage. Being multilingual was always considered to be a form of wit. However, rarely anyone questions its benefits. Are there any unpleasant consequences of being multilingual, and can it have any negative impact on your life? Let’s try to answer these questions, and discover what lies underneath the stereotypes.

I took three common opinions, and tried to dig deeper. Let’s look at it together.

+ If you are multilingual you have more chances to find a job

japan

This is quite true. However, nobody tells you what kind of job it will be, and how much you will get paid for it.

– If you are looking for a job from your home country, where everybody speaks your mother tongue, the competition to take the bilingual job will be too high. Normally, any employer is looking for a native speaker, and would prefer to take somebody from abroad.

– If you are going to work abroad, and present your mother tongue as a foreign language, people would constantly question your skills in one, or another. Be prepared to undertake a lot of formal and informal tests to prove your proficiency.

– Being an immigrant, you would rarely be considered for a job that does not require the language skills.

– Your salary might be much less than of a native, just because you come from abroad.

– If your job is not directly connected with translation, be prepared to do it for free as an additional responsibility, invented by the employer the moment you started.

+ You can communicate and make friendship with more people from all over the world.

facepalm

Very true. However, sometimes it is not enough to speak the same language to reach understanding. We have arguments and contrastive opinions even with people who come from the same country as us. What can happen with those, who come from miles and miles away? Be prepared to face:

– a great deal of misunderstanding because of social and cultural differences

– occasional embarrassment and awkward moments

– frustration because people fail to understand facts that seem so obvious to you

– transformations that will take place in you as a person, when your friends don’t recognise you any more

+ Being multilingual makes you a citizen of the world.

korea

– In fact it makes you a citizen of no particular country. When you live in one, or several different places for a long time, you inevitably lose your national identity. You stop associating yourself with any particular country, language, or culture, and the question “Where are you from?” could become quite tricky.

– Anywhere you go, including your home country, people will think you are a foreigner because of your accent. After the first year living in London, people started noticing a slight accent in my mother tongue.

– Thinking in several different languages at a time mixes up your head, and occasionally you use one instead of another. Sometimes, it  happens in your sleep, or when you are extremely tired.

All in all, your strengths could easily become your weaknesses, unless you take control, and work very hard to overcome it. However, in the end of the day, it pays off.  I think you can go on and on forever enlisting the obstacles.. Knowing 4 absolutely different languages, I can say that this is just a tip of the iceberg. But, I wouldn’t exchange my skills for anything in the world. As much it is of a challenge, it is also a pleasure, and I wouldn’t imagine living any other way. The thing is.. Being intelligent is a burden in a general, but one has to carry it proudly, isn’t it? 🙂

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Comments
8 Responses to “Pros and Cons of Being Multilingual”
  1. You live a new life for every new language you speak.
    If you know only one language, you live only once.

  2. I think it is a Chezh proverb, isn’t it? 🙂

    • ha-ha, yes
      Kolik jazyků znáš, tolikrát jsi člověkem.

      I cant remember one of proverbs Fidel Castro when he said when you speak to man in language which he is understand you speak to mind but when you speak in his language you speak to his heart.

      • Very true! 🙂 I like the Bulgarian one:

        Човекът е толкова пъти човек, колкото езика знае
        (Čovekãt e tolkova pãti čovek, kolkoto ezika znae)
        the more languages you know, the more you are a person

  3. vilks12 says:

    Very good !!! Like it !! 🙂

  4. redcactus says:

    That’s very interesting. People already think I am strange, and I haven’t lived abroad yet! 🙂 but it’s true: I wouldn’t trade my skills for anything!

  5. neil.nachum says:

    Esperanto is the easiest path to bilingualism.

  6. Alessia Bertoncello - VeritasLanguageSolutions.com says:

    Good points and so true! Personally my national identity was questionable before starting to travel, and now it’s completely gone; and my accent? Gone…as I like to say, I have a ‘universal’ accent, becasue its the same for every language, but it doesnt belong to anywhere in particular!

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