We live in the age of a ’Global’ community and this brings with it an ever-growing demand of being able to communicate in various languages, but what does being bilingual actually mean? The Oxford Dictionary of English defines Bilingualism as “being fluent in two languages”. Not really that hard, yeah? While the definition of the word seems quite simple and straightforward, learning a different language is not nearly as easy a road. Not to worry! We’re here to help you understand the benefits of pursuing a new language and the hardships you could face while you’re at it and give you tips to kick start your bilingual journey!
“Why should I become bilingual?” As a foreigner in a country, it’s possible that we want to constantly keep in touch with our native cultures, but learning a new language will also help you understand a new culture better, get over your culture shock and accept the society you live in. I’m sure we would all like to make new friends. Being bilingual not only helps you communicate with the native population, but also helps you find people with similar interests and personalities! If you’re someone who enjoys reading and theatre, being bilingual helps you enjoy foreign literature, movies, plays and even politics and business.
Furthermore, bilingualism improves our job prospects and helps us work better in a culturally diverse environment. Did you know that frequent code switching involves high levels of problem solving, multi-tasking and decision-making skills? There we have it, being bilingual also makes us smarter!
You may now be wondering how you’re supposed to kick-start your bilingual journey – I began learning Korean, my 5th language through K-pop and K-dramas. Pop-culture is definitely the most enjoyable way to pick up new words and try making your own sentences! Before I knew it, my interest in Korean skyrocketed and I found myself here, at CNU. I also made it a point to speak to Korean people and make a lot of Korean friends and text them in Korean. I am currently a Masters’ student at CNU and take 90% of my classes in Korean. I also work many jobs and knowing the language has been a major help in my job-search. Now that you have your starter pack, you’re all ready to embark on your bilingual journey! “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, it goes to his heart,” said Nelson Mandela.
By Arpita N. Srinidhi, Guest Reporter