The Rising Importance of Multilingualism

What Argo High School is Doing to Prepare Students For a Future Dependent on Multilingualism

Bridget Montei

Currently, around the world, multilingualism is key to economic success. Speakers of multiple languages are open to more opportunities due to the perception of higher intelligence.  

Trade alliances multiply and improve with the finding of common grounds through language. According to Sophie Hardach, “A study of small and medium-size companies in Sweden, Germany, Denmark and France found that those which invested more in languages were able to export more goods.” Without the availability of various polyglots, nations would fail to seize trading possibilities. Sophie later went on to say, “Companies that invested less said they missed out on contracts.” 

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – the economic gains of a country in one year – is also tied to the knowledge of more than one language. This has been statistically proven to be true. Sophie Hardach stated, “Switzerland, for example, attributes 10% of its GDP to its multilingual heritage.” She later added, “Britain, on the other hand, is estimated to lose out on the equivalent of 3.5% of its GDP every year, because of its population’s relatively poor language skills.”  

A strong economy requires a healthy workforce. A lifetime spent learning languages promotes mental health and fights off old age deterioration in employees. According to Hardach, “Multilingualism has for example been shown to be good for brain health, delaying the onset of dementia. It has also been associated with a better ability to concentrate and process information.” 

Oddly enough, one does not need a complete grasp of a language to reap the benefits. Louis Christofides, a professor of economics, told the public, “It seems you don’t have to actually speak a second language on the job to reap the financial rewards of being bilingual.” A rudimentary understanding can increase earning power significantly. Hardach explains, “The authors speculated that this was because knowing a second language was seen as a sign of cognitive power, perseverance and a good education.”  

Argo Community High School is an excellent resource for students in the district who have an interest in languages. In an interview with Vice Principal Nall, she stated, “We offer a number of courses in Spanish and French, and we have courses that are specifically designed for students who speak Spanish at home. A lot of courses are at honors level for those who are looking for a bit more of a challenge themselves.” 

Bilingualism is not only an academic benefit for a student, but it is also an outlet for social bonding. Nall asserted “We also have student groups that are designed to make sure students are able to connect with their language and culture. So, for example, our Latinx group that started this year is great for students to talk about the way speaking two languages has impacted them and continues to shape the way they see the world and what they’re interested in.”