The Benefits of Knowing a Second Language Essay

Can I see a show of hands of those of you who know a second language? Okay, and now can I see a show of hands of those who wish they knew a second language? I am here to explain to you why it is important and so beneficial for everyone to know a second language. There are more benefits to knowing a second language than it just seems “cool.” The main advantages of knowing a second language are your professional growth, improvement of mental health, and development of cognitive abilities.

The first argument in favor of learning a second language is the fact that the development of cognitive abilities in the learning process helps maintain mental health. Multiple studies have shown that bilingual people are less likely to have dementia in senior age, or its development occurs 4-5 years later than in monolingual people (Roberts & Kreuz, 2019). Many people attribute this to the fact that the cognitive abilities of bilingual people are more developed, especially if they use several languages ​​and practice them. However, no evidence explains the physiological processes associated with this fact. Nevertheless, even without understanding which hormones and brain areas are involved in this process, learning a new language is worth the effort to avoid dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Moreover, the cognitive development of a person who speaks several languages is much higher overall. Developed language skills are associated with the growth of the hypothalamus and areas of the cerebral cortex, which are responsible for memory and thoughts (Charman, 2016). In other words, a person stimulates areas of the brain and improves his memory and sharpness of thinking by learning a new language. Besides, we usually use reading, listening, and remembering to learn the words and structures, which enhances our attentiveness and concentration.

Scientists also note that knowing another language helps people expand their horizons of perception since different languages have terms that do not exist in others. For example, in Japanese, there are more words for shades of blue than in English, while Namibian Himba people divide all colors into only five groups (Charman, 2016). Thus, knowing several languages helps people better understand and perceive the world around them.

Another advantage of learning a second language will become evident to you if you go to any site for a job search. In many vacancies, you can see that a second language is necessary or desirable as this expands the possibilities of collecting information and communicating. This skill is needed for nurses, social workers, entrepreneurs, politicians, and even IT professionals to maintain communication in a globalized world. In addition, this ability will provide you with work in any of these areas as a translator.

Knowing of few languages also makes you a better employee, since thinking in bilingual thinking makes increases analytical and negotiating abilities, as you analyze the words more carefully (Penarredonda, 2018). For example, you can always pretend that you are choosing words, or you didn’t understand the question correctly if you said something wrong, and your opponent does not take these words seriously. Thus, the benefits of knowing a second language are both the obvious ability to communicate and gather information, as well as the latent possibilities of the brain.

In conclusion, learning a second language has many advantages that are inseparable. Each of you can choose your own reason to attend classes in Spanish, French, or Chinese to motivate yourself. It can be a desire to get the best job, to be open to the world, or avoid mental diseases. However, not a single person who cares about his or her future will be able to declare that such a reason does not exist.

Charman, A. (2016). How learning languages affects our brain . European Commission. Web.

Penarredonda, J. L. (2018). The huge benefits of working in your second language . BBC. Web.

Roberts, R., & Kreuz, R. (2019). Can learning a foreign language prevent dementia? The Mit Press Reader. Web.

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Should Everyone Speak at Least Two Languages?

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Brooke Holland , Writer February 10, 2021

In Lead With Languages , it is said that people who learn more than one language have improved memory and problem-solving skills. In addition to this, enhanced concentration as well as improved multi-tasking skills are among the benefits. The section of the brain that is responsible for language is the temporal lobe and Wernicke’s area. Wernicke’s area is found in the left frontal lobe on the left hemisphere of the brain, and the temporal lobe is located in the cerebral hemisphere. The temporal lobe deals with language comprehension and development, while Wernicke’s area is connected with speech production. Having the ability to speak a language other than your mother tongue is important since it opens up your job opportunities and helps your brain develop.

People who speak more than one language are more likely to get a job after the interview process. Although companies typically don’t require bilingual applicants, a study shows they do prefer to hire those who speak other languages. For example, the percent of people who speak more than one language has increased by 158% since 1980, while the population has only increased by 38%. T hose who speak different languages have a greater chance of getting hired, especially for jobs that require interaction with people in areas where English is not highly concentrated. Because a large portion of the world’s population speaks at least two languages, following suit could benefit you in terms of employment opportunities. 

According to the Dana Foundation , bilingualism benefits cognitive abilities: “When bilingual people have to switch between naming pictures in Spanish and naming them in English, they show increased activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), a brain region associated with cognitive skills like attention and inhibition.” Enhanced concentration is an advantage when it comes to careers as it is a good job skill to possess, which is why speaking more than one language is important. Additionally, the ability to speak in a different language has not only been seen to change the way information is processed in the brain, but may change the neurological structures as well. 

Even though learning a new language is an exciting idea, learning two new ones that are similar is not the best idea. Doing this simultaneously may confuse the brain and interfere with the learning process, making it difficult to grasp the content. However, learning one language then going on to begin a new dialect with similar word structures is considered quicker and more efficient.

Speaking more than one language is important in terms of future possibilities as well as brain development. It is important for people to speak multiple languages since it gives people the opportunity to connect to several cultures. When an individual speaks at least two languages, the culture, language and cognition interchange among each other within the shared mind, thus promoting a healthy brain. Bilingualism is an effective aspect of life as it allows for a healthy brain as well as an open door for more job opportunities.     

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Speaking, writing and reading are integral to everyday life, where language is the primary tool for expression and communication. Studying how people use language – what words and phrases they unconsciously choose and combine – can help us better understand ourselves and why we behave the way we do.

Linguistics scholars seek to determine what is unique and universal about the language we use, how it is acquired and the ways it changes over time. They consider language as a cultural, social and psychological phenomenon.

“Understanding why and how languages differ tells about the range of what is human,” said Dan Jurafsky , the Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor in Humanities and chair of the Department of Linguistics in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford . “Discovering what’s universal about languages can help us understand the core of our humanity.”

The stories below represent some of the ways linguists have investigated many aspects of language, including its semantics and syntax, phonetics and phonology, and its social, psychological and computational aspects.

Understanding stereotypes

Stanford linguists and psychologists study how language is interpreted by people. Even the slightest differences in language use can correspond with biased beliefs of the speakers, according to research.

One study showed that a relatively harmless sentence, such as “girls are as good as boys at math,” can subtly perpetuate sexist stereotypes. Because of the statement’s grammatical structure, it implies that being good at math is more common or natural for boys than girls, the researchers said.

Language can play a big role in how we and others perceive the world, and linguists work to discover what words and phrases can influence us, unknowingly.

How well-meaning statements can spread stereotypes unintentionally

New Stanford research shows that sentences that frame one gender as the standard for the other can unintentionally perpetuate biases.

Algorithms reveal changes in stereotypes

New Stanford research shows that, over the past century, linguistic changes in gender and ethnic stereotypes correlated with major social movements and demographic changes in the U.S. Census data.

Exploring what an interruption is in conversation

Stanford doctoral candidate Katherine Hilton found that people perceive interruptions in conversation differently, and those perceptions differ depending on the listener’s own conversational style as well as gender.

Cops speak less respectfully to black community members

Professors Jennifer Eberhardt and Dan Jurafsky, along with other Stanford researchers, detected racial disparities in police officers’ speech after analyzing more than 100 hours of body camera footage from Oakland Police.

How other languages inform our own

People speak roughly 7,000 languages worldwide. Although there is a lot in common among languages, each one is unique, both in its structure and in the way it reflects the culture of the people who speak it.

Jurafsky said it’s important to study languages other than our own and how they develop over time because it can help scholars understand what lies at the foundation of humans’ unique way of communicating with one another.

“All this research can help us discover what it means to be human,” Jurafsky said.

Stanford PhD student documents indigenous language of Papua New Guinea

Fifth-year PhD student Kate Lindsey recently returned to the United States after a year of documenting an obscure language indigenous to the South Pacific nation.

Students explore Esperanto across Europe

In a research project spanning eight countries, two Stanford students search for Esperanto, a constructed language, against the backdrop of European populism.

Chris Manning: How computers are learning to understand language​

A computer scientist discusses the evolution of computational linguistics and where it’s headed next.

Stanford research explores novel perspectives on the evolution of Spanish

Using digital tools and literature to explore the evolution of the Spanish language, Stanford researcher Cuauhtémoc García-García reveals a new historical perspective on linguistic changes in Latin America and Spain.

Language as a lens into behavior

Linguists analyze how certain speech patterns correspond to particular behaviors, including how language can impact people’s buying decisions or influence their social media use.

For example, in one research paper, a group of Stanford researchers examined the differences in how Republicans and Democrats express themselves online to better understand how a polarization of beliefs can occur on social media.

“We live in a very polarized time,” Jurafsky said. “Understanding what different groups of people say and why is the first step in determining how we can help bring people together.”

Analyzing the tweets of Republicans and Democrats

New research by Dora Demszky and colleagues examined how Republicans and Democrats express themselves online in an attempt to understand how polarization of beliefs occurs on social media.

Examining bilingual behavior of children at Texas preschool

A Stanford senior studied a group of bilingual children at a Spanish immersion preschool in Texas to understand how they distinguished between their two languages.

Predicting sales of online products from advertising language

Stanford linguist Dan Jurafsky and colleagues have found that products in Japan sell better if their advertising includes polite language and words that invoke cultural traditions or authority.

Language can help the elderly cope with the challenges of aging, says Stanford professor

By examining conversations of elderly Japanese women, linguist Yoshiko Matsumoto uncovers language techniques that help people move past traumatic events and regain a sense of normalcy.

Why You Should Learn a Second Language and Gain New Skills

May 12, 2020

In The News

Why You Should Learn a Second Language and Gain New Skills

One of the most practical ways to make use of your spare time nowadays is to start learning a new skill. 

People who always succeed are those who are keen to learn something new every day - be it learning about other cultures or learning a second language.

At Middlebury Language Schools, we are strong advocates for the importance of mastering a second language. Both personally and professionally, being bilingual can bring you several advantages.

In this article, we will break down some of the benefits of learning a second language and why this skill is one of the most overlooked skills in the world.

LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE !

Why is it important to know more than one language

We live in a multilingual world, where connections are now more important than ever. The world is becoming increasingly globalized and knowing a second language can always give you an unfair advantage.

There are tangible benefits to being bilingual:

  • It can help you in your career;
  • It can improve your memory and brain functions;
  • It can help increase your understanding of the languages you already speak.

A second language can drastically change your career. Living in an interconnected world means that more and more jobs are advertising positions where knowing more than one language is essential. 

As more companies trade internationally and create relationships with other countries, employees are often asked to travel for work, enhance these relationships, or be relocated abroad. 

Besides having more chances of landing a good job or advancing in your career, learning a second language can also give you an insight into other cultures. You will be more prepared and confident to travel the world and explore other people’s ways of living.

Lack of integration is a real problem for most countries. More often than not, this is due to the language barrier. People outside of their home countries end up being isolated, hanging out only with people from similar communities where their language is spoken. 

Learning a second language opens up the opportunity for being part of a community with a different culture, and learning more about the world around us. 

Did you know that being bilingual can also help you master your own language? For example, learning a new language with similar roots can help you learn other languages as well. Take Spanish , Italian , and French from one summer to the next!

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR LANGUAGE PROGRAMS !

What are the benefits of learning a second language

As mentioned before, learning a new language is a wonderful benefit in a globalized world. Let’s have a look at some of the benefits of learning a second language.

1. It improves your memory

The more you use your brain to learn new skills, the more your brain’s functions work. Learning a new language pushes your brain to get familiar with new grammar and vocabulary rules. It allows you to train your memory to remember new words, make connections between them, and use them in contextual situations.

2. Enhances your ability to multitask

Time management and multitasking are two skills that will always help you. Multilingual people have the ability to switch between languages. Their ability to think in different languages and be able to communicate in more than one language helps with multitasking.

3. Improves your performance in other academic areas 

Fully immersing yourself in a language learning environment means not only learning the basics of that language. It means learning how to communicate in another language with your peers or participating in extracurricular activities in that specific language. 

Take2

What languages are the most useful to learn? Middlebury Language Schools recommends 3 of our 13 languages

Since 1915, Middlebury Language Schools has been one of the nation’s preeminent language learning programs. 

Whether you’re a beginning language learner or working toward an advanced degree, our time-tested programs offer a range of options and opportunities.

Taking the Language Pledge at Middlebury Language Schools means committing to communicate only in the language of your choice for the duration of the program. You will live, play, and learn in a 24/7 environment. 

We offer a wide range of languages you can choose from. Here are just a few of the languages we offer.

Due to many geopolitical reasons, the Russian language is not very closely related to English. It is a very challenging language to learn, with complex grammar and syntax rules. However, it is an extremely culturally and politically relevant language. 

At the School of Russian , you can experience the most effective method for rapid language acquisition. An immersion environment is a promise that you will read, write, speak, and listen only in Russian throughout the duration of the program. Some of the benefits of learning Russian at Middlebury Language Schools include interpreting poetry, learning about the culture, and mastering the Russian etiquette.

LEARN RUSSIAN !

Arabic has been one of our most popular languages. It is a high demand language because it can get you ahead in a government career, but also give you endless opportunities in business and international relations. 

Arabic is spoken by more than 300 million people and is one of the top 5 most spoken languages in the world. Learning Arabic as a second language can help you learn about the Arabic culture and religion. It not only gives you opportunities to expand your connections, but also offers great travel opportunities. 

A summer at the Arabic School will help you experience the immersive environment on campus. At Middlebury Language Schools, the focus is on Modern Standard Arabic, with optional Arabic language classes in dialects such as Egyptian, Syrian and Moroccan.

Check out our Arabic graduate programs and Arabic 8-week immersion program for more information.

LEARN ARABIC !

A lot of people agree that Spanish is one of the easiest languages to learn, due to the fact that you read words as they are written. Spanish is the most spoken language in the world after English and is used by more than 400 million people. 

Spanish skills can be a strong asset for communicating and creating relationships not only in Spain, but also in Latin America. 

At the Middlebury School of Spanish , you can engage your mind with topics of interest, from Spanish history to arts and cooking. 

Ready to learn Spanish? Check out Middlebury Language Schools’ 7-week immersion program or the graduate programs .

LEARN SPANISH !

Reminders on why you should learn a second language now

We have broken down the benefits of learning a second language and becoming bilingual in a highly globalized world. 

The truth is, learning new skills every day enhances all aspects of your life. By learning new skills, you can increase your career opportunities, find out more about the world around you, and be a better person overall.

We highly encourage you to start learning a new language as early in your life as possible. However, you are never too old to learn! The world moves fast, and we must keep up with the changes - by developing new skills, learning more about ourselves, and also, learning a new language!

ENROLL NOW !

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Argumentative Essay: Why is it so Important to Know More than One Language

We live in a multilingual world that is becoming increasingly globalized and it is therefore very important to know more than one language. There are three main reasons for this: an additional language can help you progress in your career, you gain an awareness of other cultures, and it helps increase our understanding and knowledge of our own language.

More and more job advertisements are now specifying that they want second, third, and even fourth languages in some cases, and knowing more than one language opens up your prospects in a highly important way. Furthermore, as more and more companies begin to trade internationally, people are frequently beginning jobs for which they need no language skills, but then being asked to relocate abroad, or offered a promotion that requires language skills. Therefore, it helps with career enhancement. Some people refute this claim by saying that there are plenty of other jobs available, but this is simply not the case anymore with the global recession and more countries being international.

The second reason that it is important to know more than one language is that it increases cultural awareness and allows you to communicate with different people. All good methods of learning languages also entail learning about another culture, especially when your language skills get to a higher level. This awareness allows people from different nationalities and religions to get along with each other better, which is very important given the high levels of immigration. Many countries with high immigration levels have trouble with a lack of integration, and this is often because of the language barrier, so people end up being segregated, staying in communities where their own language is spoken. Even those that say they don’t care about meeting people of other cultures will have noticed these problems, and should accept the importance of learning other languages.

Finally, people should learn additional languages because it helps with their mastery of their own language and it is proven to be good for the brain. Some people believe that learning more languages leads to confusion, but besides the odd word being misused, this is simply not the case. If you learn a new language, you have to study the grammar from scratch, and therefore end up with a much more in-depth knowledge of grammar as a whole than people who only speak one language. Furthermore, if you learn languages with similar roots learning one can help you learn the others (take French, Spanish and Italian, for example).

Overall there can be no denying that learning languages is wholly positive for individuals and society and that it is highly important to know more than one language. If more people were multilingual, the world would ultimately be a happier and more prosperous place.

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Literary Theory and Criticism

Home › Uncategorized › IA Richards’ Concept of the Two Uses of Language

IA Richards’ Concept of the Two Uses of Language

By NASRULLAH MAMBROL on March 18, 2016 • ( 4 )

IA Richards, the New Critic, who, since Coleridge, formulated a systematic and complete theory of poetry, discusses in Principles of Literary Criticism the theory of language and the two uses of language the scientific and the emotive. David Daiches says, “Richards conducts this investigation in order to come to some clear can about what imaginative literature is, -how it employs language, how its use of language differs from the scientific spec use of language and what is its special function and value.”

When language is used for scientific purposes, it is matter of fact and requires undistorted references and absence of fiction, whereas when language is used for emotive ends, it may be true or false. In the scientific use of language, the references should be correct and the relation of references should be logical. In.the emotive use of language, any truth or logical arrangement is not necessary —it may work as an obstacle. The attitudes due to references should have their emotional interconnection and this has often no connection with logical relations of the facts referred to.

Richards goes on to consider the connotations of the word ‘truth’ in criticism. In literary criticism, the common use is ‘acceptability’ or ‘probability’. For example, Robinson Crusoe is true in the sense of the acceptability of things we are told, in the interest of the narrative whether or not such a person existed in real life is not relevant to the ‘truth’ of the novel. A happy ending to Lear or Don Quixote would be false because it would be unacceptable. In this sense ‘truth’ is equivalent to ‘internal necessity’ or ‘rightness’. That is ‘true’ which accords with the rest of the experience and arouses our ordered responses. Keats uses ‘truth’ in a confused way. He said, ‘What the imagination seizes as beauty must be truth.” Sometimes it is held that all that is unwanted or redundant is false; as Walter Pater says, ’Surplusage! The artist will dread that, as the runner on his muscles’. But then superabundance is common in all great art, and is much better than contrived economy. The essential point is whether this so-called surplusage interferes or not with the rest of the responses.

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Tags: I A Richards , Literary Theory , New Criticism , Two Uses of Language

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Essays Two: On Proust, Translation, Foreign Languages, and the City of Arles

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Essays Two: On Proust, Translation, Foreign Languages, and the City of Arles Hardcover – November 30, 2021

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A collection of essays on translation, foreign languages, Proust, and one French city, from the master short-fiction writer and acclaimed translator Lydia Davis In Essays One , Lydia Davis, who has been called “a magician of self-consciousness” by Jonathan Franzen and “the best prose stylist in America” by Rick Moody, gathered a generous selection of her essays about best writing practices, representations of Jesus, early tourist photographs, and much more. Essays Two collects Davis’s writings and talks on her second profession: the art of translation. The award-winning translator from the French reflects on her experience translating Proust (“A work of creation in its own right.” ―Claire Messud, Newsday ), Madame Bovary (“[Flaubert’s] masterwork has been given the English translation it deserves.” ―Kathryn Harrison, The New York Times Book Review ), and Michel Leiris (“Magnificent.” ―Tim Watson, Public Books ). She also makes an extended visit to the French city of Arles, and writes about the varied adventures of learning Norwegian, Dutch, and Spanish through reading and translation. Davis, a 2003 MacArthur Fellow and the winner of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize for her fiction, here focuses her unique intelligence and idiosyncratic ways of understanding on the endlessly complex relations between languages. Together with Essays One , this provocative and delightful volume cements her status as one of our most original and beguiling writers.

  • Print length 592 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date November 30, 2021
  • Dimensions 5.31 x 2.02 x 7.72 inches
  • ISBN-10 0374148864
  • ISBN-13 978-0374148867
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Praise for essays two: on proust, translation, foreign languages, and the city of arles by lydia davis, editorial reviews.

“As a translator, Davis is known for fidelity, clarity, and, in the case of Proust, decluttering . . . Yet the collection is not, mostly, about problems with other people’s translations but the process of working on her own―a kind of shop talk we’re allowed to listen in on . . . Davis once said in an interview that she would find it ‘almost morally or ethically wrong’ to deliberately impose her own style on a translation. Her scrupulousness is, perhaps, a counterbalance to the translator’s power, and to the peremptory instinct that prompts translation in the first place.” ―Elaine Blair, The New York Review of Books “Whatever the topic, Davis is always superb company: erudite, adventurous, surprising . . . Davis extracts endless thrills from the painstaking process [of translation]. Her essays do a beautiful job of transmitting that satisfaction to the reader . . . A book that contains an incredible amount of life-enhancing morsels.” ― Molly Young, The New York Tim es Book Review “When Davis breaks down the work of writing, she can be very funny, often at her own expense . . . The pieces in Essays Two brim with daring experiments . . . There is an element of knight-errantry, quest, romantic fatalism as she pursues the elusive foreign language, and often a distant century .” ―Ange Mlinko, London Review of Books "[ Essays Two ] offers overwhelming proof of the benefits to a writer of a practice of translation . . . [R]eaders with no interest in translation, little taste for essays and zero desire to become writers themselves will nonetheless find themselves burning through its 571 pages with equal parts confusion (What on earth is happening to me?) and relief (Thank God this is happening to me!), and, finally, recognition that the mind we're meeting on the page is awake to the world in ways that feel necessary and new. Essays Two joins Essays One (2019) . . . the two volumes conspiring to a singular astonishment of pleasures." ―Wyatt Mason, The New York Times " We come away from Essays Two with renewed respect for a writer whose grasp of languages is profound, and whose capacity to shape-shift from one to another is quite exceptional." ―Phillip Lopate, The Times Literary Supplement "[ Essays Two is] a guide . . . to new dimensions of thought. Davis makes translation seem like a sublime exercise of mind and self." ―Adam Colman, The Boston Globe "While writing about writing can sometimes wander into theoretical, navel-gazing territory, Davis’s approach here is thrillingly concrete. Several pieces describe, in vivid, granular detail, her process for translating the first volume of Proust. She pops the hood and lets us see how the literary gears turn." ― Cornelia Channing, Vulture “In this riveting and erudite collection (after Essays One), Davis documents the adventures and challenges of her work as a translator, moving with ease between the technical challenges posed by a complex text and her personal relationship with literature . . . Thorough, idiosyncratic, and inimitable, Davis is the kind of intelligent and attentive reader a book is lucky to find. Readers, in turn, are lucky to have this collection, a worthy addition to the Davis canon.” ― Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) “I think a good rule for living is always read Lydia Davis . . . Davis on writing is generous and specific in a way that reveals how much smarter she is than almost everyone without being the least bit alienating.” ―Jessie Gaynor, Lit Hub "A celebration of the beautiful and bewildering intermittences of language . . . Davis is a literary treasure." ―Jonathan Russell Clark, Star Tribune “A vivid portrait of the translating life. Davis is known for both her precise, uber-concise short fiction and her translations of Proust, Flaubert, and others. In this immersive collection, she offers a second (following Essays One) in-depth exploration of foreign languages and the art of translation. . . . For those wondering what translators do and how they do it, this collection is a must.” ― Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Product details.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Farrar, Straus and Giroux (November 30, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 592 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0374148864
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0374148867
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.6 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.31 x 2.02 x 7.72 inches
  • #2,333 in Essays (Books)
  • #3,110 in Literary Movements & Periods
  • #7,123 in Short Stories Anthologies

About the author

Lydia davis.

Lydia Davis is the author of one novel and seven story collections, the most recent of which was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award. She is the acclaimed translator of a new edition of Swann's Way and is at work on a new translation of Madame Bovary.

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The advantages of speaking two languages

two languages essay

.chakra .wef-1c7l3mo{-webkit-transition:all 0.15s ease-out;transition:all 0.15s ease-out;cursor:pointer;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;outline:none;color:inherit;}.chakra .wef-1c7l3mo:hover,.chakra .wef-1c7l3mo[data-hover]{-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;}.chakra .wef-1c7l3mo:focus,.chakra .wef-1c7l3mo[data-focus]{box-shadow:0 0 0 3px rgba(168,203,251,0.5);} Rebecca Callahan

two languages essay

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Stay up to date:, neuroscience.

Speaking more than one language may confer significant benefits on the developing brain . Research has now shown that bilingual young adults not only fare better in the job market , but are also more likely to demonstrate empathy and problem-solving skills .

The fact is that American adults are largely monolingual English speakers, even those who began life speaking more than one language . Based on the latest research, it might be time to rethink the emphasis on monolingualism in the US.

Speaking two languages has advantages

Over the past decade, my research has focused on the academic, social, and civic development of immigrant youth, specifically the ways in which schools shape how these students experience learning , friendships , and their communities .

As a former elementary bilingual teacher, I saw how full proficiency in both languages offered students significant academic and social advantages.

What was missing, however, was the link between my students’ early social and academic edge, and their entry into the job market as young adults.

For all the research that supports childhood bilingualism , it is only recently that scholars have begun to understand bilingualism in adults’ professional lives.

Bilinguals show higher test scores , better problem solving skills , sharper mental perceptions , and access to richer social networks .

In addition, young bilinguals are able to draw support from mentors in their home language communities, and from the dominant culture.

These young people benefit from the wisdom of the adage: the more adults who invest in a child, the stronger she will be. The bilingual child benefits from being raised by two or more villages!

Bilinguals more likely to get a job

Not only are bilingual young adults more likely to graduate high school and go to college , they are also more likely to get the job when they interview .Even when being bilingual is not a requirement, an interview study of California employers shows that employers prefer to both hire and retain bilinguals. Today, high-powered Fortune 500 companies hire bilingual and biliterate employees to serve as client liaisons.

Research links bilingualism to greater intellectual focus , as well as a delay in the onset of dementia symptoms . Frequent use of multiple languages is also linked to development of greater empathy .

Yet, despite research evidence, 4 out of 5 American adults speak only English.

English-only movement discourages another language

This is true for even those adults who began life exposed to more than one language . In the process of growing up American, many potentially bilingual children of immigrant parents lose their home language to become English monolinguals .

The powerful social and political forces behind the English-Only movement testify to the perceived threat of bilingualism . Every day, schools and districts across the nation succumb to external pressures and cut bilingual instruction .

Historically, research investigating bilingualism and the labor market has employed US Census measures that do not distinguish proficiency levels in the non-English language.

Most national data-sets define bilingualism with very broad strokes that do not distinguish between: a respondent who speaks only Spanish, one who speaks Spanish and a little English, and a third who is fully bilingual and biliterate. Failure to capture this heterogeneity obscures any clear relationship between bilingualism and the labor market.

Only recently have NCES data begun to include measures of self-reported proficiency in the home language, while other, more immigrant-specific data-sets have begun to ask these questions.

Bilingualism related to higher earning

Of late, newer data and sharper analytical methods provide a far richer measure of bilingualism and individuals’ ability to read and write in non-English languages.

The ability to distinguish between oral proficiency in one or more languages and actual literacy skills in two or more has allowed researchers to identify an economic advantage to bilingualism – in terms of both higher occupational status and higher earnings in young adulthood.

The new data-sets measure bilingualism in younger generations who enter a labor market defined not by geographic boundaries, but by instant access to information.

Relationship between bilingualism and intelligence

Beginning in the 1960s, linguists began to find a positive relationship between bilingualism and intelligence .

Building on this work, researchers found that elementary aged bilingual children outperform their monolingual peers on non-verbal problem solving tasks.

Then, in the late 1990s, research emerged showing that even when controlling on working memory, bilingual children display significantly greater attentional control to problem solving tasks than monolingual children.

Currently, researchers have begun to use data-sets that include more sensitive measures of language proficiency to find that among children of immigrant parents, bilingual-biliterate young adults land in higher status jobs and earn more than their peers who have lost their home language.

Not only have these now-monolingual young adults lost the cognitive resources bilingualism provides, but they are less likely to be employed full-time, and earn less than their peers.

Americans are beginning to grasp the cognitive, social and psychological benefits of knowing two languages.

Only 1 in 4 Americans can talk in another language

Historically notorious for their English monolingualism , a recent Gallup poll reports that in this nation of immigrants, only one in four American adults now reports being conversationally proficient in another language.

However, much more needs to be done if our nation is to remain a global leader in the next century.

Schools’ role in the maintenance and development of potential bilinguals’ linguistic repertoires will be critical to this process. Whether through bilingual instruction or encouraging parents to develop their children’s home language skills, what schools do will matter.

Today’s potential bilinguals will contribute more as adults if they successfully maintain their home language.

Educational research leaves little doubt that children of immigrant parents will learn English.

Where we fail these children is in maintaining their greatest resource: their home language. It’s something we should cherish, not eradicate.

This article is published in collaboration with The Conversation . Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Rebecca Callahan is an Associate Professor Bilingual/Bicultural Education, Cultural Studies in Education at University of Texas at Austin.

Image: Plaster phrenological models of heads, showing different parts of the brain. REUTERS/Chris Helgren.

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Home — Essay Samples — Entertainment — Spanglish — Spanglish: The Union Of Two Languages And Cultures

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Spanglish: The Union of Two Languages and Cultures

  • Categories: Immigration to America Mexican American Spanglish

About this sample

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Words: 1720 |

Published: Oct 2, 2020

Words: 1720 | Pages: 4 | 9 min read

  • Intersentential code-switching: Es amiga de mi hermano. I have forgotten her name.
  • Intrasentential code-switching: Yo no entiendo what the teacher explained yesterday in class.
  • I wanna be contigo
  • And live contigo, and dance contigo
  • Para have contigo una noche loca

Works Cited

  • Lipski, J. M. (2008). Varieties of Spanglish. In J. Holm & J. de Léon (Eds.), Languages in Contact: The Partial Restructuring of Vernaculars (pp. 50-67). Cambridge University Press.
  • Mendoza-Denton, N. (2008). Homegirls: Language and cultural practice among Latina youth gangs. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Moraga, A. G. (2003). El ghetto interior. Debate.
  • Otheguy, R., & Stern, N. (2011). On so-called Spanglish. Spanish in Context, 8(1), 9-27.
  • Poplack, S., & Sankoff, D. (1984). Bilingual acquisition of vernacular speech: The development of Puerto Rican Spanish. Journal of Child Language, 11(3), 485-506.
  • Reyes, A. M. (2009). En otro lugar: Identity and transformation in Spanish language cinema. Duke University Press.
  • Shorris, E. (1992). Latinos: A biography of the people. WW Norton & Company.
  • Valdés, G. (2000). Spanish as a heritage language in the United States: The state of the field. Georgetown University Press.
  • Zentella, A. C. (1997). Growing up bilingual: Puerto Rican children in New York. Blackwell.
  • Zentella, A. C. (2003). Toward a theory of Spanglish. In R. M. Bayley & C. L. Lucas (Eds.), Sociolinguistic variation: Theory, methods, and applications (pp. 259-285). Cambridge University Press.

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two languages essay

David Ludden Ph.D.

How Speaking a Second Language Affects the Way You Think

The role of inhibition in language, thought, and emotion..

Posted September 9, 2017 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan

  • It is rare when a bilingual person speaks two languages with native-like fluency. Most still have a dominant language.
  • A study found that people shift from intuitive to rational thinking when they use their second language.
  • Brain imaging research shows that the prefrontal cortex is activated both in second-language use and in rational thought.

Syda Productions/Shutterstock

About half of the world’s population uses a second language in their daily lives. Some areas of the world, such as Switzerland and Singapore, are bilingual hotspots where virtually everyone speaks two or more languages. However, even in America’s largest cities, there are sizable populations that speak a language other than English with family and friends.

The naïve view is that a bilingual person is someone who speaks two languages with native-like fluency. However, this kind of “balanced” bilingualism is rare. In the vast majority of cases, bilinguals have a dominant native tongue and a second language they can speak with some effort. These are the kind of bilinguals that Spanish psychologist Albert Costa and his colleagues reported on in a recent article in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science .

Costa and his colleagues work in Barcelona, another bilingual hotspot where many people speak both Spanish and Catalan. The team was interested in finding out if speaking a second language affected people’s abilities to make decisions. You might think that because speaking a second language is so effortful, their decision-making processes would be impaired. But this isn’t what Costa et al. found.

First, let’s clarify that we’re not talking about how a specific language affects thought processes. Psychologists used to believe that thinking was “nothing more” than speech turned inwards. And since every language carves up the world in a different way, they reasoned, the language you speak constrains the way you think. This idea is known as linguistic determinism, and it has been thoroughly debunked, despite nonsense that still circulates on the Internet, such as “Eskimos have 200 words for snow.” (They don’t.)

Rather, Costa and colleagues were looking at how people make decisions while using their second language — whatever that language may be. So the research question is whether expending the effort of speaking a second language impacts that person’s ability to make good decisions. And the answer to that question is yes, but in unexpected ways.

The researchers considered decision-making in a second language in three domains, specifically judgments about:

  • Losses, gains, and risks.
  • Cause and effect.
  • Moral issues.

We already know a lot about how people make decisions in these realms, so let’s compare these data with performance in a second language.

Losses, gains, and risks. Let’s say I give you $1.00. I then propose we flip a coin. If it comes up heads, you give me the $1.00 back. But if it comes up tails, I’ll give you an additional $1.50, bringing your net gain to $2.50. Will you take the bet? Probably not. Most people prefer the safety of $1.00 over the 50-50 chance of $2.50.

Plenty of research shows that people evaluate losses as greater than gains, in a process known as risk aversion . However, from a mathematical perspective, this is a good bet, because the expected value of the gamble is $1.25 versus the sure outcome of $1.00. Risk aversion is likely an innate intuition that colors the decision-making process.

When Costa and colleagues posed this problem to participants speaking in their second language, risk aversion disappeared, and they took the bet. Apparently, when these people were using their effortful second language, they no longer relied on intuition but thought rationally instead. So, at least from a logical standpoint, they made a better decision in their non-native language.

two languages essay

Cause and effect. We humans want to have a reason for why things happen, so we often make causal explanations even when no such relationship exists. Superstitious behaviors arise in this way. The baseball player who hitches up his trousers, spits out his chewing tobacco, and makes the sign of the cross, in that order, before stepping up to bat really believes those behaviors will increase his chances of hitting the ball.

In the laboratory, it’s quite easy to get participants to believe they’re controlling the behavior of a device — such as a pattern of flashing lights — when in fact what they’ve learned is a pattern. In other words, they think they’re controlling the device when instead they’re following it.

Ordinarily, people fall prey to all sorts of logical fallacies about causal relationships. However, when they need to deal with such situations while using their second, effortful language, they’re less likely to make these kinds of mistakes in their thinking.

Moral issues. Moral thinking is an area where intuition and emotion dominate our decision-making processes. In one famous moral dilemma, you’re asked to imagine you’re on a footbridge over a trolley line. Five workers are on the track, and a trolley is racing toward them. A very large man is standing on the footbridge just above the track. If you push him off the bridge, his large body will stop the trolley. He'll die, of course, but you'll save the lives of the five workers. Would you do this?

A few people say yes, justifying the act from a utilitarian perspective as the greatest good for the greatest number. However, most say no, responding from an absolute moral perspective: Killing is wrong, even if it saves more lives in the process.

Once again, when people are using their effortful second language, their thinking shifts from an intuitive to a rational (in this case, utilitarian) mode. They're more likely to say they'll push the large man off the bridge to save the five workers.

How Thinking Shifts

In all three cases — judgments of risk, causation, and morality — we see a shift from intuitive to rational thinking when people use their second language. At first, this finding is unexpected, since rational thinking itself is more effortful than intuitive thinking. Generally speaking, when we try to engage in two effortful tasks at the same time, we perform poorly at both.

However, it’s also important to understand what makes thinking rationally or speaking a second language effortful. It’s not so much the demand on cognitive resources, as is the case, for example, when doing mental arithmetic or reciting the alphabet backward. Rather, what makes rational thought or a second language difficult is the constant need to inhibit ingrained patterns of behavior. When we speak a second language, we need to inhibit our native language. And when we think rationally, we need to inhibit our natural intuitions.

Brain imaging research shows that the same areas of the brain — mainly in the prefrontal cortex — are activated both in second-language use and in rational thought. Apparently, once second-language speakers activate their brain’s inhibition center, it inhibits their intuitions and emotions, too. As a result, they make more rational decisions when they’re using their second language.

Costa, A., Vives, M.-L., & Corey, J. D. (2017). On language processing shaping decision making. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26, 146-151.

David Ludden Ph.D.

David Ludden, Ph.D. , is a professor of psychology at Georgia Gwinnett College.

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Essays About Language: Top 5 Examples and 7 Prompts

Language is the key to expressive communication; let our essay examples and writing prompts inspire you if you are writing essays about language.

When we communicate with one another, we use a system called language. It mainly consists of words, which, when combined, form phrases and sentences we use to talk to one another. However, some forms of language do not require written or verbal communication, such as sign language. 

Language can also refer to how we write or say things. For example, we can speak to friends using colloquial expressions and slang, while academic writing demands precise, formal language. Language is a complex concept with many meanings; discover the secrets of language in our informative guide.

5 Top Essay Examples

1. a global language: english language by dallas ryan , 2. language and its importance to society by shelly shah, 3. language: the essence of culture by kelsey holmes.

  • 4.  Foreign Language Speech by Sophie Carson
  • 5. ​​Attitudes to Language by Kurt Medina

1. My Native Language

2. the advantages of bilingualism, 3. language and technology, 4. why language matters, 5. slang and communication, 6. english is the official language of the u.s..

“Furthermore, using English, people can have more friends, widen peer relationships with foreigners and can not get lost. Overall, English becomes a global language; people may have more chances in communication. Another crucial advantage is improving business. If English was spoken widespread and everyone could use it, they would likely have more opportunities in business. Foreign investments from rich countries might be supported to the poorer countries.”

In this essay, Ryan enumerates both the advantages and disadvantages of using English; it seems that Ryan proposes uniting the world under the English language. English, a well-known and commonly-spoken language can help people to communicate better, which can foster better connections with one another. However, people would lose their native language and promote a specific culture rather than diversity. Ultimately, Ryan believes that English is a “global language,” and the advantages outweigh the disadvantages

“Language is a constituent element of civilization. It raised man from a savage state to the plane which he was capable of reaching. Man could not become man except by language. An essential point in which man differs from animals is that man alone is the sole possessor of language. No doubt animals also exhibit certain degree of power of communication but that is not only inferior in degree to human language, but also radically diverse in kind from it.”

Shah writes about the meaning of language, its role in society, and its place as an institution serving the purposes of the people using it. Most importantly, she writes about why it is necessary; the way we communicate through language separates us as humans from all other living things. It also carries individual culture and allows one to convey their thoughts. You might find our list of TOEFL writing topics helpful.

“Cultural identity is heavily dependent on a number of factors including ethnicity, gender, geographic location, religion, language, and so much more.  Culture is defined as a “historically transmitted system of symbols, meanings, and norms.”  Knowing a language automatically enables someone to identify with others who speak the same language.  This connection is such an important part of cultural exchange”

In this short essay, Homes discusses how language reflects a person’s cultural identity and the importance of communication in a civilized society. Different communities and cultures use specific sounds and understand their meanings to communicate. From this, writing was developed. Knowing a language makes connecting with others of the same culture easier. 

4.   Foreign Language Speech by Sophie Carson

“Ultimately, learning a foreign language will improve a child’s overall thinking and learning skills in general, making them smarter in many different unrelated areas. Their creativity is highly improved as they are more trained to look at problems from different angles and think outside of the box. This flexible thinking makes them better problem solvers since they can see problems from different perspectives. The better thinking skills developed from learning a foreign language have also been seen through testing scores.”

Carson writes about some of the benefits of learning a foreign language, especially during childhood. During childhood, the brain is more flexible, and it is easier for one to learn a new language in their younger years. Among many other benefits, bilingualism has been shown to improve memory and open up more parts of a child’s brain, helping them hone their critical thinking skills. Teaching children a foreign language makes them more aware of the world around them and can open up opportunities in the future.

5. ​​ Attitudes to Language by Kurt Medina

“Increasingly, educators are becoming aware that a person’s native language is an integral part of who that person is and marginalizing the language can have severe damaging effects on that person’s psyche. Many linguists consistently make a case for teaching native languages alongside the target languages so that children can clearly differentiate among the codes”

As its title suggests, Medina’s essay revolves around different attitudes towards types of language, whether it be vernacular language or dialects. He discusses this in the context of Caribbean cultures, where different dialects and languages are widespread, and people switch between languages quickly. Medina mentions how we tend to modify the language we use in different situations, depending on how formal or informal we need to be. 

6 Prompts for Essays About Language

Essays About Language: My native language

In your essay, you can write about your native language. For example, explain how it originated and some of its characteristics. Write about why you are proud of it or persuade others to try learning it. To add depth to your essay, include a section with common phrases or idioms from your native language and explain their meaning.

Bilingualism has been said to enhance a whole range of cognitive skills, from a longer attention span to better memory. Look into the different advantages of speaking two or more languages, and use these to promote bilingualism. Cite scientific research papers and reference their findings in your essay for a compelling piece of writing.

In the 21st century, the development of new technology has blurred the lines between communication and isolation; it has undoubtedly changed how we interact and use language. For example, many words have been replaced in day-to-day communication by texting lingo and slang. In addition, technology has made us communicate more virtually and non-verbally. Research and discuss how the 21st century has changed how we interact and “do language” worldwide, whether it has improved or worsened. 

Essays About Language: Why language matters

We often change how we speak depending on the situation; we use different words and expressions. Why do we do this? Based on a combination of personal experience and research, reflect on why it is essential to use appropriate language in different scenarios.

Different cultures use different forms of slang. Slang is a type of language consisting of informal words and expressions. Some hold negative views towards slang, saying that it degrades the language system, while others believe it allows people to express their culture. Write about whether you believe slang should be acceptable or not: defend your position by giving evidence either that slang is detrimental to language or that it poses no threat.

English is the most spoken language in the United States and is used in government documents; it is all but the country’s official language. Do you believe the government should finally declare English the country’s official language? Research the viewpoints of both sides and form a conclusion; support your argument with sufficient details and research. 

Check out our guide packed full of transition words for essays .If you’re stuck picking your next essay topic, check out our guide on how to write an essay about diversity .

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Foreign Language IELTS Essay: IELTS Writing Task 2 Essay Samples

  • Updated On December 14, 2023
  • Published In IELTS Preparation 💻

Writing Task 2 of the IELTS exam has displayed a large variety of questions over the years. However, there are still some general themes and topics that are often repeated in Task 2 of this English proficiency test. One of these recurring themes is the new language or the foreign language theme.

Table of Contents

In this theme, you can be asked to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of learning a different language belonging to any of the foreign countries. Additionally, you can also be asked to express your own opinion on the topic. This blog shares detailed information about Foreign Language IELTS Essay. Before we get deeper into the topic and start discussing model answers, let’s walk through some general tips that can help you in leaving a good impression on the examiner about your English language skills in task 2.

Foreign Language IELTS Essay

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Tips to Ace the Foreign Language Essay Writing Task 2 IELTS

Although you can find an endless number of relevant examples for the essay writing task in IELTS, there really is no fixed format that can guarantee you a good band score in the writing section. So, what really works in helping you get a good score in task 2?

  • A strong introduction and conclusion that are in coherence with the topic assigned: This will immediately get your examiner hooked onto the paragraphs written inside your piece and will leave a great impression on them!
  • Use of refined vocabulary along with excellent use of grammar: Making use of good (and sometimes complex) vocabulary accompanied by an accurate usage of the English grammar is a pre-requisite for getting a good score in writing. It shows the examiner that your own knowledge of the language is vast.
  • Providing relevant examples from different parts of the world: Many aspirants miss out on supporting their arguments along with good examples from either their own country or a different country. This leads to them losing out on marks in task 2.

Following these three tips will really catapult your writing task 2 score, which will have a greater impact on your overall band score for the writing section. To make the application of these tips more clear, let’s take a look at some of the sample answers for the foreign language theme.

Foreign Language IELTS Essay Samples

Question – Some people believe that the only reason for learning a new/foreign language is for travelling or working in a foreign land. While others argue that there are many more reasons as why someone should learn a new language apart from their native language. You have to discuss both these arguments and give your own opinion on the following topic. Make sure to give reasons for your answers and provide examples. Minimum word limit – 250 words

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Foreign Language IELTS Essay: IELTS Writing Task 2 Essay Samples

Sample Answer 1

Learning a second language or a foreign language is linked to many advantages that far surpass the sole reasons of learning a new language for travelling or working in a foreign land. However, for the sake of playing the devil’s advocate, I’ll say that some people belonging to a different school of thought consider better job opportunities and travelling to be the only motive behind learning a foreign language. I am of the opinion that there are other reasons like learning about a foreign culture, and the bright prospect of cognitive development that propel many monolingual people to study a new language. With ever-increasing globalization and the opening up of international barriers, more and more people choose to emigrate to new and foreign lands in the hope of better job prospects. This often requires them to learn a new tongue. For instance, many people prefer learning languages like English, Spanish, and French, rather than the Russian language because countries speaking the former tongues have shown more affinity towards emigrants and provide a multitude of better job opportunities. This makes many people believe that jobs and sometimes travel are the only driving forces for learning a new tongue, especially for a young learner. On the other hand, some people including myself have researched the pros and cons of learning a foreign language thoroughly and have found that the pros far outweigh the drawbacks. The onset of memory ailments like dementia can be slowed down by cognitive development that comes with learning a foreign language. Furthermore, multilingual people are more confident and can easily acclimate themselves to new and alien surroundings by the virtue of their communication skills that have been expanded and upscaled. They find it easy to overcome language barriers and truly become global citizens speaking the global language. In conclusion, to go through the tough process of honing effective communication skills in a third language or a second language, people realise that it is not just for the sake of travel or work that they are doing this process. Instead, it stems from a deeper love for the language and the confidence that speaking a new tongue instills in them. Question – When living in a foreign country where you have to speak a new language, you can face serious social and practical problems. To what extent do you agree or disagree? Give reasons and examples in your answer and write at least 250 words.

Foreign Language IELTS Essay

Also Read: SAT Writing & Language Test 2022

Sample Answer 2

Language barriers arguably form the backbone of the biggest social and practical problems that people living in a foreign land have to face and overcome often. In my personal opinion, it can also spark serious problems in various countries, however, the widespread use of technology in curbing these issues to a certain extent over the past few decades. People belonging to different cultures can have issues in understanding each other because of speaking different languages and sometimes even because of different ways of pronunciation of the same words. Migration is not on the rise in the twenty-first century and people often move to distant lands in hopes of jobs, travel, and sometimes studying. In such a scenario not speaking the land’s language can become a basis for social problems like discrimination, racism, etc. Interestingly enough, technology has played a pivotal role in curbing the extent of practical problems faced by people when moving to a new land without being savvy with the foreign language. For instance, there are many web-based applications that do the translation job for people and save them the trouble of having to explain their point to the natives merely through vague hand gestures.

By way of conclusion, I stand firm on the point that social problems can far exceed practical problems when migrating to a foreign land without being fluent in the foreign language and perhaps, some language learning could really help in becoming a part of the foreign culture quicker and better. Although, as far as practical problems are concerned, technology is a boon that is eliminating most of them.

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Ans: The best way to  practice  writing for IELTS is by looking at sample answers and practising as many themes as you can. You can also show this to a tutor or an online learning platform’s mentors like the ones at  Leap Scholar  to ensure that you are on the right path.

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Essays on Two Official Languages

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two languages essay

Two-dimensional array grammars in palindromic languages

  • Hannah Blasiyus , 
  • D. K. Sheena Christy , 
  • Department of Mathematics, SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Faculty of Engineering and Technology, Kattankulathur 603203, Chengalpattu District, Tamil Nadu, India
  • Received: 20 March 2024 Revised: 02 May 2024 Accepted: 10 May 2024 Published: 20 May 2024

MSC : 03D05, 68Q42, 68Q45

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In this paper, we put forward models that generate two-dimensional palindromic languages with array-rewriting rules. The rewriting rules are of either regular or context-free type with terminals being arrays. The derivation lengths are managed by the array concatenation conditions. These grammars give rise to an extensive variety of palindromic pictures. Different hierarchies that exist between the classes defined are demonstrated. The closure properties have also been evaluated. Applications of these models have been explored by generating a few patterns of kolams.

  • array grammars ,
  • palindromic arrays ,
  • picture languages ,
  • formal languages

Citation: Hannah Blasiyus, D. K. Sheena Christy. Two-dimensional array grammars in palindromic languages[J]. AIMS Mathematics, 2024, 9(7): 17305-17318. doi: 10.3934/math.2024841

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  • © 2024 the Author(s), licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 )

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  • Pilot study on large language models for risk-of-bias assessments in systematic reviews: A(I) new type of bias?
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  • http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7989-6994 Joseph Barsby 1 , 2 ,
  • http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4417-0370 Samuel Hume 1 , 3 ,
  • http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7679-9125 Hamish AL Lemmey 1 , 4 ,
  • http://orcid.org/0000-0002-2867-7393 Joseph Cutteridge 5 , 6 ,
  • http://orcid.org/0000-0001-8621-5165 Regent Lee 7 ,
  • http://orcid.org/0000-0003-3795-6762 Katarzyna D Bera 3 , 7
  • 1 Oxford Medical School , Oxford , UK
  • 2 Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust , Newcastle Upon Tyne , UK
  • 3 University of Oxford St Anne's College , Oxford , UK
  • 4 University of Oxford Magdalen College , Oxford , UK
  • 5 York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust , York , UK
  • 6 Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust , Hull , UK
  • 7 Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences , University of Oxford , Oxford , UK
  • Correspondence to Dr Katarzyna D Bera, University of Oxford Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, Oxford, UK; katarzyna.bera{at}st-annes.ox.ac.uk

https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjebm-2024-112990

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  • Systematic Reviews as Topic

Risk-of-bias (RoB) assessment is used to assess randomised control trials for systematic errors. Developed by Cochrane, it is considered the gold standard of assessing RoB for studies included within systematic reviews, representing a key part of Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. 1 The RoB tool comprises six domains that may signify bias: random sequence generation, allocation concealment, blinding of participants and personnel, attrition bias, reporting bias and other potential biases. 2 This assessment is an integral component of evaluating the quality of evidence; however, it is a time-consuming and labour-intensive process.

Large language models (LLMs) are a form of generative artificial intelligence (AI) trained on large volumes of data. ChatGPT is an LLM developed by OpenAI, capable of generating a wide variety of responses in response to user prompts. Concerns exist around the application of such AI tools in research, including ethical, copyright, plagiarism and cybersecurity risks. 3 However, LLMs are increasingly popular with investigators seeking to streamline analyses. Studies have begun investigating the potential role of LLMs in the RoB assessment process. 4 5 Given the flexibility and rapidly evolving nature of LLMs, our goal was to explore whether ChatGPT could be used to automate the RoB assessment process without sacrificing accuracy. This study offers an assessment of the applicability of LLMs in SRs as of December 2023.

This study sits within an SR (PROSPERO CRD420212479050). Two reviewers (SH and HALL) implemented RoB across n=15 full-length papers in portable document format (PDF) format ( table 1 ). Six domains were assessed independently alongside an added ‘overall assessment’ domain ranking each as high, low or unclear RoB. Alongside RoB assessment, reviewers recorded author name, DOI and publication year using a Microsoft Office form. Any conflicts were resolved by discussion, with a third reviewer (KDB) available for arbitration, although this was not required.

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List of included papers (n=15), numbered 1–15

In parallel, a fourth reviewer (JB) uploaded the same PDF files to ChatPDF.com, a plug-in powered by ChatGPT3.5 that facilitates the upload of PDF files for analysis by ChatGPT3.5. ChatGPT3.5 was prompted to assess the RoB within each paper through prompts pertaining to each of the six domains. Responses were recorded in a separate, but identical, Microsoft Office form. Reviewer 4 (JB) was blinded to the assessment of reviewers 1 and 2 throughout. JB then repeated this process using ChatGPT4.

Responses from decisions across all domains were compared considering percentage of concurrent decisions, opposite decisions and indeterminable decisions. All data were analysed and stored in Microsoft Excel. Gemini was trialled but was unable to perform a RoB assessment in its current form.

In total, n=105 decisions were undertaken by GPT3.5, GPT4 and human reviewers. ChatGPT3.5 was concurrent with human (gold standard) assessment in 41/105 (39.0%) decisions and disagreed on 10/105 (9.5%). ChatGPT4 agreed with human assessment on 34/105 (34.3%) decisions and disagreed on 15/105 (14.3%). Both ChatGPT3.5 and ChatGPT4 delivered an indeterminate response on 54/105 (51.4%) decisions. ChatGPT3.5 outperformed or matched the performance of ChatGPT4 in 6/7 (85.6%) domains (aside from selective reporting), with ChatGPT3.5 performing best in assessing sequence generation and completeness of data, with 8/15 (53.3%) concurrent with human assessment. ChatGPT4 performed best in assessing selective reporting, with 14/15 (93.3%) correct decisions. Results by domain are summarised in table 2 . Notably, GPT4 performed superiorly in one domain (selective reporting), returning a correct decision in 14/15 (93.3%) cases, while GPT3.5 was correct in 10/15 (66.7%) decisions.

Summary of risk-of-bias assessment outcome per domain assessed by ChatGPT3.5 and ChatGPT4 compared with human assessment

When assessing Karanikolas (2011) and Mann (1983), ChatGPT3.5 returned an assessment as ‘moderate’, and ‘low to moderate’, in the overall domain. Both were recorded as unclear as substitute. On one occasion, ChatGPT identified an author as ‘P. C. Weaver’, who is not an author on any included papers. When discussing Lastoria (2006), ChatGPT responded initially in Portuguese.

We explored the potential for ChatGPT as a tool for assessing RoB. Overall, ChatGPT demonstrated moderate agreement, and minor disagreement with gold standard (human) assessment. While encouraging, this suboptimal performance precludes us from recommending ChatGPT be used in real-world RoB assessment.

To emulate end-users, prompts were not standardised, and some questions were repeated to ensure accuracy. When responses were ‘moderate’, ChatGPT was prompted to reassess. Similarly, ChatGPT often declined to perform assessments, which required further prompting with alternate question structure or wording. When prompted to assess allocation concealment for Choksy (2006), ChatGPT summarised the process as follows: ‘randomisation was performed using a random number table and randomisation details were placed in sealed envelopes which were opened in the operating theatre’. Human assessment ranked this as low RoB, whereas ChatGPT ranked this as unclear stating ‘it [was] unclear whether these envelopes were opaque’, demonstrating a literal interpretation of the literature not seen in human assessment.

In this analysis, ChatGPT4 did not offer improvement on ChatGPT3.5 in any domain, aside from selective reporting. For selective reporting, ChatGPT4 returned a correct decision in 14/15 (93.3%) cases, and ChatGPT3.5 in 10/15 (66.7%). However, human assessment returned a decision of unclear on n=14/15 of these assessments. ChatGPT4’s inability to give a definitive assessment is perhaps best outlined by ChatGPT4’s response: ‘To make a definitive assessment, one would ideally compare the outcomes reported in the paper with those specified in the study’s protocol registration’. This could represent an improvement through appreciation of the wider context of a given paper.

Our findings have limitations: the sample size of included papers in this study was small and fairly homogenous. Additionally, we chose not to use standardised prompts. Prompt variability has been demonstrated to introduce output variability. 5 Future research could benefit from a larger and more diverse dataset, with standardised prompts to assess and improve consistency of responses.

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  • McKenzie JE ,
  • Bossuyt PM , et al
  • Higgins JPT ,
  • Altman DG ,
  • Gøtzsche PC , et al
  • Arshad HB ,
  • Khan SU , et al
  • Talukdar JR

Supplementary materials

Supplementary data.

This web only file has been produced by the BMJ Publishing Group from an electronic file supplied by the author(s) and has not been edited for content.

  • Data supplement 1

X @scullingmonkey

Contributors Conception of study: JB and KDB. Data collection: JB, JC, KDB, SH, HALL. Data analysis: JB, JC and KDB. Data interpretation: JB, KDB and LR. Drafting of paper: JB, JC and KDB. Approval of final version: all authors. ChatGPT is the subject of this study and was only used as described in methods and results. ChatGPT was not used in analysing, drafting or rewriting of the paper.

Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Competing interests None declared.

Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

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