I recently started a new job in the Mexico City office of a major Silicon Valley company. There's nothing like working in a multinational start-up office to make you ogle at the linguistic abilities of everyone there. My Venezuelan team lead trains half the team in rapid-fire Spanish and the other half in English, and our team members routinely start a sentence in Spanish and end it in English. I find half my thoughts start in English and end in Spanish as the weeks go on, a new phenomenon has me feeling closer to the global norm of being bilingual.
Most countries have more than one official language -- Zimbabwe has 16, South Africa lists 11, Aboriginal Australia is home to 130 indigenous languages, and many well-educated Indians are comfortable communicating in 4 or more languages! An estimated 60-75% of the world speaks at least two languages (versus only 20% of the population of the United States), making monolingual native English speakers a minority.
And perhaps we're missing out.
Being multilingual has numerous benefits, from long-term psychological health advantages to simply being more attractive on the job -- and dating -- market. If you find yourself struggling to stay motivated in French class, perhaps we can entice you with our discussion of nine concrete benefits of being fluent in another language.