From when I was a child, I was already exposed to bilingualism. I lived in Australia for the first half of my life speaking and learning English in school, while I spoke Japanese at home. To be completely honest, I didn’t think of much as a small child, of the opportunities I had of speaking two languages. (with the exception of course, of speaking with one Japanese friend about things that I wanted to keep private, as all kids do.) Growing up however, I have come to realize these opportunities. Online, I have come to realize how fortunate I am to be able to understand articles and tutorial videos about many topics in two different languages. This has often helped me in my tasks in school, such as my Extend Essay (EE). In my EE, I looked at a Japanese composer, and although there were papers and articles done about him in English, many of his own words were only in Japanese. Thus, by being able to understand such words, I was able to have a deeper understanding of who he is, and how his life has influenced his music.
In everyday life, I have also experienced a few pros of knowing and communicating in two languages. Whenever I speak to friends who speak in both English and Japanese, I have two sets of vocabulary I can pull words from, and so it is often easier to express my ideas to my Japanese-English bilingual friends. On top of that, as some words in one language could be un-translatable, or are very hard to translate into other languages, I have the opportunity to express intricate feelings or ideas using these words in their original language, keeping their nuances and hidden meanings. However, one challenge this poses is when I can find a word in one language, but can’t translate that word or find the word in the language that is being spoken in that specific conversation, thus my ideas being not fully coherent to the listener (who may know only one language).
Although knowing two languages can be great at times, there are still many many more languages across the globe. When visiting Cambodia for a service trip, I saw myself having a hard time communicating with the locals. One experience I had with the locals, was playing around with children, on top of teaching other children the English language. Through teaching, I was able to experience learning a new language from a completely new perspective (from the perspective of the people teaching), and through playing with the children, I was able to take on the challenge of communicating without knowing their language. Through google translate on my phone, and through gestures and talks with words that the children understand, I was able to communicate what we as a group wanted to do/play, and have an overall fun time with the children. Through the trip, I was able to engage with people from a completely different culture, using a completely different language, and learn a little of their language.