Monolingualism is the ability of only speaking one language (Swann et.al. 2004). There are many different meanings of monolingualism from different perspective. Another meaning of monolingualism is when a person who has an active knowledge of only one language, though perhaps has some passive knowledge of others (Ellis 2006). Other terms that used for monolingualism are ‘monoglottism’ or ‘unilingualism’. People can have a passive knowledge of another language but still is a monolingual (Ellis 2006). Monolingualism is a complex aspect that which its nature and effects are performed across a range of social disciplines which is yet to be confirmed by the social scientists as well as linguists for further exploration (Ellis 2006). Monolingualism has always been on the downside when it comes to this multilingual society. However, speaking only one language still have benefits for its speakers, such as more professional in that particular language and also not to be losing their cultural identity. Although bilingualism has benefit when it comes to the earning of speakers, monolingualism is better than bilingualism for the reason of it provides a larger vocabulary to its speakers as well as better self-awareness of their mistake.
Firstly, speaking only one language provides its speakers a more vocabulary than bilingual speakers. Monolingual speaker tends to know more words than the two language speaker (Bialystok et al. 2010). A study from Portocarrero, Burright and Donovick (2007) found that in the English vocabulary exam (PPVT-III and EVT), the monolingual candidates showed about half a standard deviation higher than the bilingual candidates. The results of the exams showed that the bilingual candidates do not have a large English vocabulary when compared to the monolingual candidates. The result also showed that the bilingual group’s performance is at an average scale on the standardized measures of English vocabulary than monolingual group. Their performance is still lower than monolingual peers as they have less time to spend or to focus on a single language. From the same study of Portocarrero, Burright and Donovick (2007), the bilingual candidates showed a significantly lower semantic fluency than the monolingual candidates. In addition to this, a study published in the ‘Child Development’ magazine showed that the monolingual children have a faster vocabulary build-up ability than bilingual children. The monolingual children also performed better in their speech when compared to the bilingual children (Bilingual children are smarter than Monolingual Children 2012).
Secondly, monolingual speakers may have better self-awareness than bilingual speakers. Cambridge University and Anglia Ruskin have found that the monolingual speakers have better skill when they are assessing their own performance (Knapton 2016). Researchers from Cambridge University and Anglia Ruskin came out with a research of asking 31 monolingual speakers and 31 bilingual speakers to decide from the computer screen that showed two circle containing a number of dots, which of the two circles contained more dots and rate how self-assured they were in their decision. Unexpectedly, the bilingual participants were 10 percent less accurate than monolingual participants after assessing their own performance of each decision they have made (Knapton 2016). The result showed that monolingual participants are more aware of whether if they themselves have made a mistake or not.
However, monolingualism has its limitation when it comes to its speakers’ earnings. Generally, bilingual worker earns more than monolingual worker. According to Bilingualism Translates Into Higher Earnings, Study Finds (2010), Bilingual men earn 3.6 percent higher and bilingual women earn 6.6 percent higher than monolingual worker. In addition to this point, in every $1,000 a monolingual men earns, another person who knows another language and use it at work will earn a $209 more than a monolingual worker. Although learning a second language can make higher earnings, Christofides, an Economics professor (2010) mentioned that people do not actually need to learn a second language in order to get a good job but having knowledge about the other language is acceptable. The study from Canadian Public Policy/Analyse de Politiques found that one who use two languages at work have similar earnings regardless of whether their mother tongue is French or English. Not to forget, learning a second language cost a large amount of investment. According to a new report from Fraser Institute, the official bilingualism cost $2.4 billion annually (Kathryn 2012).
As can be seen, although bilingualism has its benefits in how much its speakers can earn, monolingualism is better than bilingualism as it provides its speaker a broad vocabulary and better self-awareness than bilingualism. Monolingualism provides the speakers with a wider amount of vocabulary which benefit them in communication and education field. Monolingualism also provides its speakers a better self-awareness for the reason that they are more concerned of whether or not they have made any mistake as well as what is happening around them. Even though bilingual speakers earn more than monolingual user, the cost of becoming a bilingual speaker is about $2.4 billion per year which is considered as a large amount of investment. Hence, monolingualism is better than bilingualism. I believe that many of its benefits have yet to be discovered.