Social – Bicultural

In addition to fluency in multiple languages, being bicultural–the ability to understand both American and Latino cultures and their differences–can deeply influence relationships with clients. At times, having language and culture in common isn’t enough. In Powers’ case, speaking Spanish with an accent can make or break acceptance in his hometown. “I am white skinned, but because I speak Spanish I can immediately be accepted anywhere in this city,” Power says. “My dad totally fit in here because he was fluent in Spanish, but because he still had an accent I think he still felt overlooked as a non-Latino.”

Power also affirms that his bilingual/bicultural background allows him to understand the frustration non-Latino communities feel in the predominantly Latino Miami area. “As an urban planner I spend time thinking about how these populations can be empowered/involved and still identify with Miami.”

Economic – The Cost of Two Tongues

Aside from career growth, being bilingual can also be good for the bottom line – your pocket. According to, some companies offer their dual language speaking employees more money for their skills. The payments are called bilingual pay differentials. Employees that need to use two languages for a significant portion of their jobs must undergo a bilingual competency test to prove fluency. Upon passing, you can be eligible for a little more cash for the extra work.

Cognitive – Outside of the Box

Being bilingual can also be good for your health. Really! In an interview with National Public Radio, psychologist Ellen Bialystok of York University in Toronto confirmed that bilingual brains are always active, keeping two languages separate in their brains. “We don’t really know very much in psychology,” said Bialystok. “But the one thing that has been so overwhelmingly proven, that I can say with great certainty, is this: for a bilingual who really has two good languages that they use, both of them are always active.” An active brain, like an active body becomes more agile thus giving way to multiple levels of understanding, flexible thinking and great problem solving skills — all beneficial to your health and successful career growth.

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