With globalization an increasing phenomenon in our interconnected world, being multilingual can be an asset in almost every situation, putting those who speak several languages a giant step ahead. The more languages you know, the better your options for success.
Languages help us better understand each others’ feelings and allow us to more readily communicate with one another. Multilingual ability also plays a vital role in everyday life, including travel, income generation, customer service and job searches. Encouraging more flexible mindsets and divergent thinking, young minds are especially receptive, with newly acquired skills raising self-esteem and self-confidence.
Being exposed to another culture builds bridges to new relationships and increases knowledgeable awareness in such areas as classification, concept formation, analogical reasoning, problem-solving and visual-spatial skills development. There are many advantages to being multilingual, including:
* Being able to learn new words and patterns easily
* Playing phonics rhyming games with words like “bat” and “cat”
* Breaking down words by sound, such as B-A-T for “bat”
* Putting words and concepts into categories
* Using information in new ways
* Reinforcing preparatory reading readiness
* Developing good listening skills and
* Coming up with solutions to problems.
Basic knowledge of Mandarin Chinese and Malay/Arabic makes competitive sense, growing in demand for business and trade transactions. In many fields, it’s essential. Translators, flight attendants, travel agents, sales & marketing representatives, social workers and health care providers find diverse conversant language and cultural sensitivity necessary in their jobs. Multilingual communicative competence expands your horizons, strengthens your analytical powers and brightens your future prospects. Besides, it’s fun to discover linguistic cross-cultural commonalities. School is sekolah in Bahasa Malayu, rongrian in Thailand and honghian in Lao. Teacher is guru in Sanskrit and Malay, kruu in Thai, kuu sawn in Lao, ajar(n) in Cambodian and lao shi (wise) in Chinese.
Asean should take a progressive education leadership role by providing a far-sighted regional perspective model, specifics of which can be adapted to meet the unique learner-focused needs of each and every receptive participant. It is hoped that Surin Pitsuwan will endorse these innovative “4 in 1” friendly neighbor IT materials, published by Genesis Multimedia, on behalf of Asean and that Thailand eduthorities will adopt a quadrilingual approach (Thai, English, Chinese, Malay) to broaden Thai students’ linguistic horizons, job opportunities, cross-cultural understanding perspectives and the way we look at the world. This self-access 3-book series should prove especially helpful in the deep south border provinces, demonstrating tolerant respect for and dignified acceptance of locally-determined priorities, by recognizing the importance of learning the basics of the indigenous Rumi language in all schools.
Dr. Chanchai Prasertson