With the changes in the American cultural and the movement across countries, America is experiencing global changes that have impacted on the language and the people in the country. These changes have brought about new languages that allow persons to speak more than one language. But what do these changes mean for the society? Being bilingual does not change the way in which people live and adjust to the norms in the society. Instead, bilinguals are able to communicate on different levels in the society and among different cultures. Bilingualism stems from the influx of immigrants to the American society. Many of these immigrants come from countries that do not speak English. These persons bring a new language that changes eventually but leaves the speakers being able to converse fluently in two languages. For many people, America is the melting pot that serves as the foundation for the assimilation in the country. With the influx of immigrants in the country, there is the continued change in the language and the increase in the likelihood of new languages that will create a wide range of bilingual speakers who can have a positive impact on the development of the country.
According to Yudhijit Bhattacharjee “speaking two languages rather than just one has obvious practical benefits in an increasingly globalized world” (Bhattacharjee 1). Furthermore, bilinguals create new opportunities for native speakers as they provide first hand lessons to persons who do not speak this new language. In addition, the immigrants will also have to learn English in their new homes if they wish to communicate effectively with other Americans. For many bilinguals, who cannot speak English, there are a number of challenges that prevents these immigrants from communicating freely in their jobs and the wider society. Arguably, these bilinguals will lose their culture, but the truth is that adults are less likely to lose their native language as learning English is generally more difficult for older persons. But, younger children are likely to learn the new language and become fluent in both languages. Despite these changes in the language and language development of the people, bilingualism will not be a danger to bilingual persons or to those who speak the English language.
Furthermore, bilingual speakers create a number of advantages for the society as a whole. Bilinguals speak two languages that they either acquire two languages during their childhood or learn a second language after acquiring their first language. Children who are exposed to both languages in their homes and can speak these languages fluently are bilinguals. Francois Grosjean has written a number of pieces on bilingualism in the eighties and has addressed the issue of bilingualism in the United States (Grosjean 1). The author points out that language is evolving as “the 2007 American Community Survey found that a bit more than 55 million inhabitants spoke a language other than English at home” (Grosjean 2). Within this group, “some 51 million also knew and used English and hence were bilingual” (Grosjean 2) and this means that nearly 20 percent of the American population are bilingual (Grosjean 2).
Interestingly, the numbers of bilinguals in the country have adjusted to the economic and social situations in the country and have made no efforts to change their native language. There is no equal distribution of bilinguals across the United States. In States such as Kentucky, Montana and West Virginia contains only a few bilinguals where states such as New Mexico, California, and Texas have a larger proportion of bilinguals. Spanish speaker are more often bilinguals, but in recent times the number of Chinese immigrants have entered the states and have begun to influence the language in the country. In fact, bilingualism in the United States is one of the traditional transitional periods. This period creates an increase in the awareness in the way in which persons see the world. People have kept their culture alive as they encourage their children to acquire a second language.
Cultural Discontinuity theorists argue that these immigrants may face a number of disadvantages because they do not speak language or understand the social or cultural conflicts that stems from their interracial conflicts. The conflict is one of concern as the theorists believe that the children who are learning this new language find it difficult to switch to their native culture. But this is not entirely true as a number of bilinguals reinforce the Cultural-Ecology Theory where these theorists believe that bilinguals face challenges with educational attainment as many of the these bilinguals do not wish to attain a higher education, but instead, they opt to earn a living and help their families.
Kirk Semplenov points to the story of Kim Ki Chol, 59, who opened a clothing store after migrating from South Korea in 1981. Chol’s was successful as he “opened a clothing accessories store in Brooklyn and went on to become a successful retailer, real estate investor” (Semplenov 10). Chol was not deterred by the fact that he could speak English well, but he was more concerned with making a living in the United States. His determination proves that bilingualism is a matter of choice as bilinguals can become successful without learning a new language. Bilinguals believe that the test for naturalization requires applicants to have a working knowledge of the basics English. But a number of immigrants and successful entrepreneurs believe that there is no need for the older generation of immigrants to become educated as acquiring a new language is far more difficult at this stage and this should be left to the younger generation.
In concluding, bilinguals can operate successfully in the United States as they find many ways to adjust to the changes in the society without acquiring a second language. For many bilinguals, acquiring a second language is challenging at an older age, but the younger population will have no challenge in this respect. Still, the number of bilinguals in the United States continues to grow and many persons believe that the numbers will continue to grow as immigrant move further into the United States. The challenges of being a bilingual in the society are great as these people have to adjust to the new culture and language. But, many bilinguals continue to survive and become successful despite the challenges that they face because they do not speak English or speak only a little English.
Bhattacharjee, Yudhijit, Why Bilinguals Are Smarter? (2012) Sunday Review Web 04 Apr 2016
Grosjean, Francois Life as a Bilingual: Bilinguals in the United States - Who are the millions of
bilinguals in the US? (2012) Web 04 Apr 2016 <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-bilingual/201205/bilinguals-in-the-united-states>
Semplenov, Kirk Moving to U.S. and Amassing a Fortune, No English Needed (2011) Web 04
Apr 2016 <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/09/nyregion/immigrant-entrepreneurs-