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There are more Spanish native speakers in the U.S. than there are in Spain, and yet less than one percent of American adults feel they’re proficient at a foreign language they learned in the classroom. According to The Atlantic, monolinguals are the minority in Europe, with 19 percent bilinguals, 25 percent trilingual, and 10 percent speak four or more languages. In America, only 15-20 percent consider themselves bilinguals.

From an outside perspective, America, the land of opportunity and freedom, is praised for its diversity and coexisting cultural variations. However, oftentimes there is lack of representation and embracing from within the U.S., which puts both foreign citizens and Americans at a disadvantage.

In the United States, middle and high school education consists of courses which attempt to prepare students for only harder and more challenging courses for higher education. Languages are a skill that surpasses university, trade schools and careers. Regardless of the path a high school student chooses to take, having the ability to speak another language puts them at a huge advantage from the start. Though it is a controversial subject, whether or not  basic education prepares students to enter adulthood, it is clear that monolingualism in the U.S. only creates a barrier, a gap and animosity between groups.

Monolingualism puts Americans at a disadvantage. We are entirely less educated in the various cultures within our own country, and therefore unprepared to emerge ourselves into another culture entirely different from our own. It creates a difficulty in fending for ourselves, whether it comes to interacting with those of our own career or job path instate or out-of-state. It hinders us from the benefits that bilinguals have, such as a basic understanding of linguistics, staving off dementia, and greater cognitive skills.

Even within the bilingual communities, those who become second, third, and so on generations  tend to forget their language. For English becomes the prevalent language in schools, outside of schools, and at work. There is loss of culture, instead of enhancing it, and such is another reason why learning another language should be enforced in the States. Giving those of Italian, Mexican, German, Portuguese or other backgrounds the option to continue being bonded to their culture generations after.

I myself have had the experience of being English as a Second Language (ESL) which then helped me self-teach Portuguese and interact with so many people! However, I’ve met plenty of second-generation Hispanics who’ve felt like an outsider to their own culture, or not accepted by others.

I am completely aware of the difficulties that entail learning an entirely new, different language, and that the strenuous, busy life of college students or young adults in the U.S. makes it even harder. However I believe such justifies why there should be more emphasis on being taught a language at school (and not just in the span of two years of workbook homework) but actually interacting with speakers, whether by viewing, mimicking, or listening to a language. I believe if students are taught with the same intensity, severity and vehemence ESL students are taught in order to learn proficient English in under three years, Americans can be bilingual too!