Does Bilingualism in America Threaten the English Language?

English is in no danger of disappearing any time soon; it is firmly established both in America and in countries throughout the world. In fact, no language has ever held as strong a position in the world as English does today. Some people worry when they see Spanish showing up on billboards and pay phones, but in a neighborhood with a high Spanish- speaking population, it makes perfectly good sense for public information and instructions to be printed in both English and Spanish. This doesn’t mean that the English language is in danger.

The truth is that there will probably always be immigrants in the U.S., coming from a wide variety of countries, who cannot speak English but whose grandchildren and great-grandchildren will end up being native English speakers. The reason for this is, again, the fact that it is much easier for children to learn another language than it is for adults. Adults who immigrate to the U.S., especially later in life, may never really become fluent in English. It’s not that they don’t want to speak English; it’s simply much more difficult for them to learn it well. Their children, however, will be able to pick up English easily from their friends and the society around them.

However, It’s these children who often don’t take advantage of speaking two languages when it comes to promoting this in the job market and to prospective employers. Many with the HR industry as well as, recruiters find bilingual jobseekers to stand out from other candidates even if the a specific position may not call for a second language requirement. To truly take advantage of a second language skills many decide to language test and receive official certification that can be prove ones fluency.

A language assessment comes in all forms: Speaking, Reading, Writing and Listening.  It’s quite likely that the children of these millennial’ s – the third generation – will most likely speak only English, both at home with their bilingual parents and in the English-speaking community. This three-generation pattern has been repeating itself for many years, through wave after wave of immigrants.

Many adults today who speak only English can remember grandparents and great-grandparents who spoke very little English, who instead spoke mostly Polish, Italian, German, or Swedish – the language of the country they grew up in. In sum, bilingualism isn’t a danger either to the English language or to the bilingual speakers themselves. On the contrary, there are many advantages to bilingualism, both for the individual and for the society as a whole. English enjoys tremendous dominance in the U.S. and in the world. But if history is any indication, there will always be people in the U.S. who cannot speak English – and they will have grandchildren who do.