Why America Is Falling Behind The Rest Of The World

I’m in Hong Kong for the first time by myself. I don’t have a translator and I have to rely on the little Chinese I know to communicate with my many relatives. Or so I thought. Most of the trip consisted of them speaking to me in English for my sake since my Chinese was so inconsistent and it made me wonder why is it that other countries are able to speak multiple languages so fluently while people from America seem to only know English. It’s almost as if we rely on others to learn our language, but we don’t learn theirs. So why is it that other countries seemed to be well versed in several languages while America is only stuck on one?

Single Language Syndrome

After coming to this realization, I started doing some research on how the diversity of languages in America is compared to the rest of the world. And I came to the conclusion that America has been struck by the Single Language Syndrome. Now, this isn’t actually a thing, just a theory that I made up because it always seems like the rest of the world is at least bilingual. For example, I met a girl from Ukraine last year who not only could speak English, but could also speak Russian and Ukrainian. My little cousin who grew up in Hong Kong can speak Cantonese and Mandarin Fluently as well as English. However when I think about my friends that I have here in America, most of them can speak a single language; English. They may be able to speak some of their own language, but just barely get by, if at all. Now isn’t that something to think about?

Web of Languages

I just found this whole thing so amazing because language has always amazed me. It is what we use to communicate with each other as humans. Yet in a way, some people are able to communicate with a larger percentage of the human population simply because of what language(s) they may know or even how many language(s) they know.

Globalization

While the United States may be a world power, we are slowly falling behind in our ability to communicate. We may be technologically advanced and a first world country. However, this would not have been possible without collaborating with other countries. In order to do this, communication is needed. Many companies are looking for employees who are at least bilingual now because they realize the value of being multilingual. In the workforce nowadays, many people applying for jobs have the skills and qualifications for the role, but not many have special qualities that stand out. Being able to speak another language can distinguish you from other candidates. It also shows that you are immersed in another culture and allow one to showcase themselves as a more global employee.

Consequences of Falling Behind

As the world becomes more and more competitive, we all struggle to put ourselves at the top. And according to Ryan McMunn, language expert and CEO of BRIC Language Systems, “those entering the workforce in 2014 with second language fluency can expect an additional 10 to 15 percent pay increase”. Many companies are recognizing the value of diversity and so in order to set oneself apart, having another language in your pocket could prove to be quite beneficial. We are at risk of falling behind and other countries have already realized the importance of learning another language. The work force is already competitive as it is and there is no reason to fall further behind. “The US is definitely behind [compared] to what other countries are doing,” said Nancy Rhodes, a senior world language consultant at the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, D.C. With this in mind, we should we should be urged to find a solution to push ourselves ahead.

Connecting The Threads

The ability to communicate in another language allows one to be able to connect to a whole other culture in a more personal manner. We can start by coming up with more language immersion programs, or perhaps even encouraging schools to start teaching or requiring their students to master another language. Languages are the key to breaking down more personal barriers because it is how we as people bond and communicate. It not only helps with the economy, politics and academics, but also helps to open our eyes and appreciate the differences that make us all who we are. We all have something in common and that is we all have differences. Languages are what we have to communicate, the thread that binds us together and connects us. When will we realize the importance of that and take action in finding a cure for the Single Language Syndrome?