The U.S. is a melting pot of different cultures, so it might seem bizarre that only one language seems to be prominent. According to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 79.7 percent of U.S. residents ages five and older spoke only English at home from 2008-2010. The second most spoken language was Spanish at 12.6 percent and the third was Chinese at 0.9 percent.
For a country that is supposed to be a combination of cultures, it does not seem inclusive to give special treatment to just one language. Monolingualism is standard in the U.S., mostly because a lot of people already speak English and have no need to learn another language. Should we preserve English as the only language necessary to learn while all others are just novelties?
I do not think so, because teaching multiple languages at a young age could be beneficial for young brains, as well as promote more inclusiveness. According to The British Academy, learning a new language through an immersive process improves brain functions such as mental alertness and attention. People who speak other languages also often exhibit more empathy and a global mindset.
Perhaps it is time to start teaching other languages earlier in schools. There are already many countries that have frequent bilingualism such as Norway, Iceland and Canada.
According to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), just under one-third of Canadians reported being fully bilingual and roughly seven percent reporte peaking three languages fluently.
Canada is a combination of cultures just like the U.S. and in the aspect of multilingualism they are far ahead of us. Americans can do better. We can start to take other languages seriously. We should start teaching other languages to our children earlier. Adults should also familiarize themselves with at least the basics of another language. I am not saying that everyone in the U.S should be fluent in at least two languages. I know that learning a second language is a very lengthy and difficult process. However, just learning the basics of a second language could be very beneficial; if not for the sake of inclusion, then for the sake of self- improvement.
Learning is a great thing, especially with another language. It could open up new opportunities that you had never thought of before. It could be good for business or for traveling to a country where English fluency is not high. You can get connected to another culture and expand your worldview, maybe even challenge the perceptions you have of the world. It is a very good kick to get you out of your comfort zone and conquer an ability you once thought could be too hard. It is worth it because out of the hundreds of languages spoken throughout the world, why would you only limit yourself to one?
Nico Brazill can be contacted at