Being bilingual is something I have been brought up just knowing how to do. German and French was thrown about in our kitchen as much as the ingredients and, until I began school, I didn’t realise that this isn’t necessarily the way that others live their lives. In this regard, I am very fortunate to have come from a home where languages were always just there.
However that said, you don’t have to be a fluent speaker from a young age in order to learn to appreciate and understand another language. The term bilingual can be quite intimidating at first, but it’s actually a really fun way of going about daily life. Plus it means you have access to twice as many puns which everyone loves!
Recent studies have shown that practicing a language (whether you’re learning or an intermediate speaker) for half an hour every day can help improve your memory. It’s seen as a positive step in decreasing risk of alzheimers or dementia in later life. In this regard, it’s something small you can do to help yourself keep thinking and also to learn handy new linguistic devices which might aid you in revision for school.
It definitely helps me in my day to day existence because if I can’t remember something in one language, usually I can remember it in another – albeit not the one I am talking in most of the time. Having that initial step means you’re only one translation away from catching back up with your train of thought.
Access to culture
Many cultures are best accessed through their language because things make a little more sense somehow. Particularly when it comes to things such as cliches, puns, and traditions this is certainly the case.
Plus it’s a great step to be able to gather the confidence to open up to other native speakers and learn from them. Benny Lewis, the Irish polyglot, speaks much about the value of this and how living in a place (or even just speaking the language when you visit) can be your most valuable practice to unlocking a knowledge of the communities which exist within the location through conversation.
Translation in literature is not as common as you think, in fact it is sorely lacking with a few exceptions which catch the public eye. Having more people being bilingual is is a step forward in tackling this so that more translations and the like can be made available to the wider public. For if we do not know the information is there, if we cannot have access to it, how on earth will all of the important voices in our world be heard, shared, and put into action?
There are so many elements of history, art, and life which can be better appreciated when you have multiple lens options to choose from. So what are you waiting for? Go out and grab a double language dictionary right now – the world is your oyster.