- Сәлем! Привет! Hello! Merhaba! Bună ziua!
It is interesting to know how many languages one can acquire and actively use them in his daily repertoire. Didn’t you think about that? I think it is beneficial to grow up in a Post-Soviet country which maintains the knowledge of two languages. Although my family is from a Kazakh speaking medium, that did not influence the purity of my second language: Russian. English was added later on when studying at a secondary school. Whereas, Turkish was a second major language after English at the university. Fortunately, I am an active Turkish language speaker. As Kazakh and Turkish belong to Turkic language family that perhaps the reason for my success in latter. What about “Bună ziua!”!? This is Romanian, which I used to study as an “unknown language”, a part of my TESOL course. Some grammatical similarities of Romanian to Russian made my study a bit easier at that time. With this in mind, these languages are the tools which help me to achieve my aims. Therefore, I consider myself as a prudent multilingual individual.
Let’s define the terms first. As Cenoz (2013) emphasizes, some researchers claim that bilingual is the person who speaks two languages, and multilingual is the one who actively uses two and more languages. I consider myself as a balanced multilingual in first four languages. However, my knowledge of Romanian is limited, almost close to its loss.
So, what are the benefits of being multilingual or bilingual? Cenoz (2013) mentioned that being multilingual positively affects the cognitive development of an individual. For instance, multilingual better fulfills some metalinguistic tasks and some features of the cognitive downturn related to aging can slow down. Personally, I have experienced its benefits in various ways. First of all, education is the sector which requires the knowledge of an additional language. In our case, it is English. It is the language which I have taught at schools and used as a medium of instruction at my institution. Additionally, English was the language which I referred to when traveled and lived abroad. Kazakh, along with Russian are the languages of daily communication. However, Russian is the preferred language of the Internet. As Okal (2014) points out:
- “Multilingualism is a big resource” (p.226).
It opens doors for the creativity, communication, access and many more. The key idea that I want to emphasize is that bilingual can use the knowledge of his languages to learn additional ones (Cenoz, 2013), which I do up to these days. As mentioned above, I have used Russian to learn Romanian, and Kazakh to acquire Turkish. I guess, it is the time to apply it to English.
So, to your mind, what are the privileges of learning additional languages for you? Would you agree that by being bilingual you make a less effort to acquire another language?
Cenoz, J. (2013). Introduction to Multilingualism. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 33, 3–18.
Okal, B. O. (2014). Benefits of Multilingualism in Education. Universal Journal Of Educational Research, 2(3), 223-229.