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Pros and Cons of Multilingualism

Updated on November 14, 2019
Davie Chen profile image

Davie is a passionate consumer of nonfiction literature and knowledge distributor for the purpose of enhancing people's lives.

Growing up between three cultures and languages alternatively has been a lot of fun. I remember having to switch languages on-the-go while playing sports, especially soccer because...well, everybody loves soccer.

Multilingualism has expanded in the same proportion as globalization which in turn has combined and merged the markets into one market. I love it but let's discuss the topic another time.

Multiculturalism has inherently brought its pros and cons but I'd like to share some of my thoughts based on solely my own personal experience. I prefer concrete examples over comprehensive theories any time.

Real Life Examples

Overhearing everything (perhaps a bit dramatic)

It's a bless and curse to overhear and understand more than one language. Sure it's a handy skill but it leads to possibilities in possessing extra burdens and to get distracted all the time.

Even with decades of practice, I still get scatterbrained if I overhear people speaking Chinese while I'm having a conversation in Finnish or English. Chinese, especially Cantonese is my mother tongue but my strongest language is Finnish.

Working in customer service

I have worked in customer service for ten plus years and this field knows how to throw jabs once in while. Occasionally customers and clients would question my ability of other languages, as a result they would speak to me in the same language that I have served my previous customer.

It's pretty amusing and it doesn't bother me to communicate with the language s(he) has inadvertently started but I'd rather speak in the customers' first language (if it's within my competency).

Being able to interact with more than one language has its perks, for instance you can get a higher salary solely based on that knowledge. The more languages the higher the pay. Having such a skill - in some occasions - even gives the person a bigger chance to get promoted.

Have you seen how much do the most skillful interpreters earn? You might want to learn some new languages after getting the answer.

Brain dysfunction

My curriculum vitae consists of various types of customer service professions and I believe the most challenging had been waiting tables and managing a kitchen concurrently. It doesn't sound like as nerve wrecking as it looks but the amount of things and orders to remember is actually as insane as in some of the certain TV programs.

After the crazy amount of hours managing restaurant services I have tremendous respect for restaurant staffs and cabin crews.

As you can imagine the excitement and aversion of an "office" like that, languages are many times cross-used. We had Finglish, Chinglish and even Finnese. There were many incidents when I blacked out when I was trying to come up with a word, and the worst of the worst were when it happened in front of customers. For my fortune, customers usually laughed it out with me.

Speaking and reading multiple languages have given me a much deeper enrichment in life. The personality of the individual undergoes changes according to the spoken language (okay not all time, but s(he) will perceive a clear change). If you are monolingual, be cheerful because a clean canvas means more space and more options for further development.

How many languages can you communicate with? Please, share with us.

Thank you for reading this article, see you next time!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Davie Chen


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