Multilingualism is defined as the ability to use multiple languages, or as the act of using polyglotism (the ability to write and speak in three or more languages with incredibly high proficiency). In modern times, is has become a well known fact that multilingual speakers now outnumber monolingual speakers (people who are only able to speak their native language properly) and in many ways in considered necessary for globalization and the furthering of cultural ties.
Multilingualism has become increasingly popular with the use of technology and the internet. This grants individuals with easy access to platforms and communities for learning new languages, causing multilingualism to become more and more frequent amongst the world’s population. A person that is able to effectively communicate in more than one language is considered to be multilingual, while a person that is able to communicate in more than three languages is generally referred to as a polyglot, which is Greek for “many language”.
Of course, multilingual individuals would have acquired their “first” or native language during childhood, children who acquired and maintained two different languages while growing up are often called “simultaneous bilinguals”. Some claim that simultaneous bilinguals have a much easier time acquiring and maintaining new languages then those who learned only one language growing up, but this is not true. Multilingualism can be achieved by anyone who has the desire and dedication that is needed for further language acquisition, and the difficulty of doing this will not be any harder than those who learned two languages during childhood, as the acquisition of said languages would have been natural for the child.
When speaking of multilingualism, as said, simultaneous bilinguals have no advantage over those who learned only their native language growing up. However, individuals who are have high proficiency in two or more languages have been proven to have a more enhanced executive functionality than monolinguals, better mental organization in some areas, as well as obviously having better language learning skills. The acquisition of a new language at a young age (not specifically simultaneously with their native tongue) also has many benefits; multilingualism at a young age has shown to have an extremely positive effect on intellectual growth, mental development, cultural awareness, as well as further understanding of the child’s native language.
The benefits of multilingualism also positively affect those of all ages, it can improve mental organization and health, cultural awareness (as mentioned) and opens the door to many opportunities unavailable to monolingual individuals; the most important being job opportunities. This varies from location to location; in the state of Arizona for example, the ability to speak and write Spanish proficiently has created many career opportunities due to the increasing amount of native Spanish speakers in the area.
In current times, multilingualism can almost be considered a phenomenon as more and more people are striving to learn new languages. It is a way for people to expand their cultural knowledge for both personal and professional reasons. Multilingualism has become an important part of society and has helped many countries to expand their borders for positive reasons.