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Why I’m grateful to be bilingual

October 24, 2016 • Vilma

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For this month’s life goal of practicing gratitude, I’ve decided to acknowledge something that I have taken for granted for the majority of my life- being bilingual. When I take the time to think about the role my bilingualism has played in my life, I’m able to see many amazing opportunities that were available to me.

When I was younger, I never realized the sacrifice my parents made to put me through bilingual schooling before moving to the US. I didn’t understand why I was forced to speak a foreign language at school. It wasn’t just tough for me but also for my parents; English was a struggle for them. My mother was patient enough to flip through a Merriam-Webster dictionary to help decode foreign words from my homework assignments.

At first, I didn’t see the value in speaking a second language until I moved to the US. I was able to start college right away without going through ESL classes. Those 11 years of school back home prepared me to start my life as an international student at an American university without any major problems.

Being bilingual opened many doors for me. I was able to meet new friends from different backgrounds and nationalities with a deeper level of understanding. It even opened up the doors for me in the workforce as I was translating documents and instructions in Spanish while I worked as customer service agent at an insurance company. Being able to truly help Spanish-speaking customers by translating their insurance policies in their native language was the most rewarding experience. I’m grateful that I can write in English so that I’m able to write for Adventurself and express myself. For all of these reasons and more, I’m extremely grateful for being bilingual and for my amazing parents who were able to afford my bilingual education.

I encourage any future millennial parents and current parents to enroll their children in language classes. A second language can help them tremendously throughout their life, and they too will impart their knowledge onto their children.  They will have the opportunity to explore and understand different cultures. As if you needed more incentive than all of that, your future kiddos will also have a leg up in the job market. According to NIU Newsroom, “being bilingual can be a significant career advantage.”

Are all you monolingual Adventurers experiencing FOMO right now? Don’t worry; there’s many ways to learn a second language if you’re ready to commit. You can take classes at a local college. Some institutions allow you to audit a class without the burden of a grade or credit. Or you can teach yourself through programs like Rosetta Stone or Mango Languages. Did you know you can use programs like that through your public library!? It’s a no-brainer. If learning a second language solo isn’t your vibe, try attending a local meetup. Find a meetup group for your desired language! It’s a fun experience and a great way to meet new people.

For all my bilingual friends out there, I hope you realize how amazing it is to speak a second language. The benefits are far reaching, so whether you embark on learning a new language or by instilling the values and opportunity onto your future children- you won’t regret it! It’s never too late to try something new and foreign. All it takes is a clear choice and the commitment and diligence to make it happen! I’m forever grateful for being bilingual, trust me it’s the most rewarding experience with priceless benefits!

 

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Vilma Sierra

I studied Communications at Rider University in New Jersey and currently live & work in the Downtown New York/New Jersey...
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