The first step to be taken in order to establish and understand the meaning of the term bilingual is to proceed to determine its etymological origin. In doing so, we discover that it comes from the Latin “bilinguis”, which is a word formed by two clear Latin components: the prefix “bi-”, which can be translated as “two”, and the noun “lingua”, which is synonymous with “ language”.
According to DigoPaul, bilingual is an adjective that is used to name someone who speaks two languages or what is written in two languages. For example: “Multinational company seeks a bilingual Bachelor of Administration (Spanish-English)”, “In today’s job market, being bilingual is almost a necessity”, “They presented a bilingual edition of Hugo Guerolo’s biography”.
The Bilingualism (the ability of a person to use both languages interchangeably) can be native or acquired. If a child is the son of Mexicans but is born and raised in the United States, it is likely that he or she is a native bilingual since, at home, they will speak Spanish, while at school and in life in general they will appeal to English.
On the other hand, if a person is born and lives all his life in Chile but studies German from the age of five, upon reaching a certain age he will master this second language to perfection, in addition to his native Spanish. It will therefore be a case of acquired bilingualism.
The notion of bilingual, therefore, is associated with a perfect command of two languages that can be used by the individual interchangeably (that is, it can be expressed without problems in both languages). A subject who has knowledge of another language in addition to his native language will not be bilingual, since he will not be able to express himself fluently.
In recent years, in countries like Spain, bilingualism has taken on special relevance. A good example of this is that more and more schools, both schools and institutes, proceed to an education based on it. Hence, many of the classes are taught by teachers in English so that students, from an early age, have fluency with the language that has come to be considered the universal language: English.
Specifically, the various government institutions have opted for this type of teaching, based on Spanish and the Anglo-Saxon language, because it is considered that it brings with it a significant number of benefits for children and young people:
• They manage to improve their ability to master languages.
• They develop in a more perfect and comprehensive way in terms of language.
• Looking ahead, it is easier for them to have access to a job, since now languages are one of the strong pillars when it comes to getting a job either inside or outside their countries.
• It is a way to get to know another culture.
• It helps them to be more tolerant and to enrich themselves culturally speaking.
With globalization, bilingualism or multilingualism has become more prevalent as international travel and communications have become massive.