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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Blog: Language and Linguistic Diversity

Wednesday, January 29, 2020   (0 Comments)

Happy New Year, and welcome to the first official Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) monthly blog!

This blog will cover topics from WGR’s monthly DEI Committee meetings. Meetings are open to all WGR members, view upcoming topics and meetings here. To learn more about WGR’s commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion click here.

This month, we kicked off the New Year with a discussion on language and linguistic diversity, facilitated by DEI Committee members Alpha Lillstrom Cheng and Isabela Dorneles.

Did you know that there are several key benefits of speaking more than one language? By speaking more than one language, you are challenging your brain to recognize, negotiate meaning, and communicate in different language systems, which boosts your ability to negotiate meaning in other problem-solving tasks. According to an Illinois State University study, students who study foreign languages scored higher on standardized tests than their monolingual peers.

Multilinguals also learn to switch between two systems of speech, writing, and structure, which builds multitasking skills. For example, a Pennsylvania State University study found that people who spoke more than one language made fewer errors in their driving!

Since speaking more than one language involves memorizing rules and vocabulary, which strengthens your mental “muscle,” your memory also improves, it can help keep Alzheimer’s and dementia at bay. Studies show that bilinguals can remember shopping lists, names, and directions better than their monolingual counterparts.

Learning a foreign language also focuses your attention on the mechanics of language, such as grammar, conjugations, and sentence structure. This makes multilinguals more aware of the ways language can be structured and manipulated, which results in skills that make you a more effective communicator.

If you want to teach your children another language and reap these benefits yourself, here is a pro tip: start young. According to research by Patricia Kuhl, Director of the University of Washington’s NSF Science of Learning Center, babies pick up the different languages that are being used around them long before they can talk. Babies take in the different tones and sounds and are able to discriminate between all the sounds and languages in the world!

Language and linguistic diversity is one of the many important topics intended to educate and empower WGR members—making us more aware of the world around us.

“All of our topics are issues of importance to the greater WGR community,” said DEI Committee Chair, Dr. Monica Almond. “This topic had yet been covered by the Committee and it is one that resonates across the organization as we progressively have more members who are multilingual, multiracial, or from other nations.”

If you’d like to keep learning about this Language and Linguistic Diversity:

This blog is authored by Angela Lee, Manager of Advocacy Outreach and Engagement, Goodwill Industries International.