"One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way."
— Frank Smith, Psycholinguist

Benefits of Multilingualism


There are over 7,000 languages spoken in the world today.

Speaking more than one language increases your cognitive abilities such as problem-solving, creativity, and memory.

One third of all the corporations in the U.S. are either owned or based abroad. Knowing a second language broadens employment opportunities.

Who is proficient in at least 2 languages? 56% of Europeans, 35% of Canadians, 66% of the world’s population, and only 17% of Americans.


Debate, Careers, National Security, Cognitive Advantages, Interesting Facts

Ready, Set, Debate!

In a provocative article, Larry Summers, former President of Harvard University and former Secretary of the Treasury, argues that globalization makes it less clear that the substantial investment necessary to speak a foreign tongue is universally worthwhile. (The New York Times)

In his response, Larry Summers is Wrong About Languages, Michael E. Geisler, Vice President for language schools, schools abroad, and graduate programs at Middlebury College, argues that linguistic isolationism hurts Americans, particularly as new poles of economic growth emerge around the world and the relative power of the United States declines. (Inside Higher Ed)

This discussion continues….Room for Debate (The New York Times)

The Modern Language Association (MLA) published an important report on Foreign Languages in Higher Education: Foreign Languages and Higher Education: New Structures for a Changed World that identified the need for transcultural and translingual competence.

Your Career

Make Yourself a Global Asset: learn another language. (Harvard Business Review video)

Companies need to pay attention to a multilingual web. (BBC business news)

Foreign Language Skills Provide Sharp Edge in the Job Market. (International Business Review)

A glance into the different professions that need more language speakers. (Boston Globe)

“By the time health care reform is fully implemented, in 2014, 44 million new subscribers will be added to the health insurance rolls.” It’s evident that there is an urgent need for health care workers who can communicate with and intercede for “Limited English Proficiency consumers who speak upwards of 200 languages.” (DiversityEmployers.com)

National Security

Charles Kolb, President of the Committee for Economic Development (CED) and former White House Member, argues that America needs a far more geoliterate population in the 21st century. (Huffington Post)

The National Security Education program seeks to change America’s monolingual culture by awarding more than 4,200 scholarships and fellowships to U.S. citizens to study critical languages and cultures. (US Defense.gov)

Dr. Wayne E. Wright, a Professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, argues that federal education policy is not meeting the national need for bilingual citizens. (Speaking in Tongues)

Cognitive Advantages

Being bilingual, it turns out, makes you smarter, says a writer from Science Magazine. It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language. (The New York Times)

A series of experiments found that thinking in a second language reduced deep-seated, misleading biases that unduly influence how risks and benefits are perceived. (Wired Magazine)

Interesting and Random

A State Department staffer gives his tips on becoming fluent fast. (Washington Post ExpressNightOut)

Northwestern guys talk about study abroad, and why men are underrepresented. (The Chronicle)

This graphic shows the top study abroad destinations, along with some key reasons. (OnlineUniversities Blog)

An Air Force Pilot tells the benefits of learning a foreign language based on his experience using Arabic. (ForeignPolicy.com)

Britain’s “Most Multilingual Student” talks about his passion for languages and how he learned so many.  (BBC video)

In her talk, longtime English teacher Patricia Ryan asks a provocative question: Is the world’s focus on English preventing the spread of great ideas in other languages? (TED: Ideas Worth Spreading) 


Bilingualism serves as enrichment for the brain and has real consequences when it comes to executive function, specifically attention and working memory.” Northwestern Professors Viorica Marian and Nina Kraus find that bilingualism enhances attention. (Northwestern.edu)

William W. Maddux, , Hajo Adam and Adam D. Galinsky. 2010. When in Rome, learn why the Romans do what they do: How multicultural learning experiences facilitate creativity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 36: 731-741. (Adobe Acrobat PDF Logo Download )

Eva Lam and Enid Rosario-Ramos (2009). Multilingual Literacies in Transnational Digitally-Mediated Contexts: An Exploratory Study of Immigrant Teens in the U.S.. Language and Education, 23(2): 171-190. ( Adobe Acrobat PDF Logo Download )