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Frequently Asked Questions

An "Official Multilingual City" is simply a city that has decided to go on record as proud of its language resources.

No. Multilingualism is about mastery of two or more languages. English is the common language of the United States. Everyone needs to have the opportunities to develop full literacy in English, and an official multilingual city is one that supports the development and use of English as one of the languages. It also supports the development and use of languages other than English. There are great benefits for individuals who know more than one language, and tremendous benefits to a city to foster those skills. The more languages a person knows, the deeper their understanding of and mastery of literacy overall. Literacy in languages other than English strengthens mastery of English.

A city may have people who speak a variety of languages and therefore be a linguistically diverse community. However, if there aren't articulated commitments to the value of that diversity and deliberate initiatives to foster and be able to access the benefits of such diversity, those language assets are often lost. Without deliberate efforts to develop language resources, fewer people are likely to become multilingual. Also, an official declaration as a multilingual city sends clear messages to our international business, governmental, educational and cultural partners that we value strengthening our mutual ties by making strategic attempts to learn and use their languages.

English is one of the major languages of the globe. However, it is not the single international language, and vast numbers of people and nations are not English speaking. Furthermore, many of our international partners across the world are teaching their children English and multiple other languages. The fact is that when many people know English PLUS other languages, knowing ONLY English is no longer an advantage. The advantage goes to those individuals who know English AND other languages as well. When our children become adults and compete in the global marketplace, they'll be competing against others who are multilingual. As the old saying goes, 'If you want to buy, you can buy in any language. But if you want to sell, you need to speak the language of your customer.'

In addition, languages allow us to access other cultures. The more languages we have, the more fully we are able to understand and negotiate the world of the 21st century.