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Essay Contest Results (4th Annual, 2009)

How Does Knowing Two Languages Open the World to You?

Grades 4-8

Jaelene Rodriguez
PS 17
Teacher: Renata De Luca

My names is Jaelene Rodriguez and I am blessed to have parents who taught me two languages: English and Spanish. Both of my parents come from the Dominican Republic, where Spanish is the native language. I grew up speaking only Spanish at home and then I learned how to speak English better when I started school. In being bilingual, I believe I have an advantage over people who only know how to speak one language.


The main reason I benefit from being bilingual is that when I get older there will be job opportunities for me in both Spanish-speaking and English speaking businesses. Also, if I become a teacher, I will be able to teach Spanish to English speakers and English to students who speak Spanish. Because of the different races arising in the population in America, it is very important to have people who are bilingual in order to make communication easier.


Secondly, the fact that I know two languages allows me to communicate better when I travel to places where Spanish is the native language. I will be better able to understand the people and their culture. It will be easier for me to get from place to place, especially if I need directions. Being bilingual will allow me to make Spanish-speaking friends all over the world if I am lucky enough to travel to these places.


In conclusion, being bilingual is a blessing from God. Many members of my family speak Spanish, and I believe knowing a second language makes their life a little bit easier. Also, I am happy that I am able to talk to the members of my family that do not speak English, including my grandmother. Therefore, I advise those who have the opportunity to learn a second language to take advantage of it.



Octavio Tellez, Grade 5
All Saints Academy, Corning, NY

Teacher: Lori Clark


Speaking in two different languages is fun because when my sister and I talk in Spanish. People don’t understand us. The good things about talking in Spanish is that if we see a movie that they talk in Spanish in some parts with my friends I can translate to them the words if they don’t have subtitles. I can do the same thing with my parents they sometimes can’t understand some words so they ask me or my brother. Sometimes people who come and see my school talk Spanish and don’t know English very well I can help them by translating.

I can also help my aunt, cousin, or uncle I can translate to them stuff they don’t understand. I can also read instructions that are in Spanish and English I can understand better the instructions. I would be able to pass a Spanish test. I can help my friends in Spanish like helping them pronounce some words like Camino Real and tell them what some words in Spanish mean. When there are Spanish words in are social studies I can help my classmates pronounce the words.


In the future when I go to high school when I take French class it will be easy because my brother told me that French is similar to Spanish. If in the future I become an actor if the director talks in Spanish I would be able to understand him better. If I become a singer that sings all around the world I would all ready know three languages well French I would all ready since I went to High school. Maybe I would know a little Chinese since I’m taking Chinese club. If I have a family I can teach them Spanish and French.


When we first got here, we could not talk English very well. We tried to talk to somebody that could talk Spanish. Then we found a taxi driver how could talk Spanish and he helped us. Maybe that could be me one day helping some who does not know English very well. With out these two different languages I would not be able to do these things in the present and future our help people but I can do all those things thanks to my different languages. 


Grades 9-12


Mattia Iusto 
Grade 8 Bailey Middle School 118, Kingston, NY
Teacher: Elise Hunt


Does Knowing Two Languages Help open up the world for me? Today many countries fight because of their cultures. Knowing two languages is good because you could communicate with different people. When people communicate they understand and look each other in the eyes to show respect.


When I arrived at the airport in the winter of 2004 the only language I knew was Italian. I was already asking myself , “How am I going to go to school without speaking English?” I thought that people were going to make fun of me. How was I supposed to get an Education? I got help from my parents. Now I can communicate with different kinds of people.


Knowing two languages is great. Cultures could come together. For example Obama gave a speech to Iran saying that they should be friends. At the end of the speech he spoke Farsi. My parents were shocked hearing the president speaking Farsi. Obama showed respect to Iranians. My mom translated what Obama said. Obama said Happy New Year . He communicated with the people of Iran and they felt happy to hear it.


Obama spoke Farsi and showed respect to Iranians by speaking their language. He could have said it in English. That was a sign of friendliness and respect. Knowing two languages is a great skill to have for jobs, life, and communicating. Anyone can learn a new language.



Yeimi Santos, Grade 9
Stissing Mountain High School
2829 Church Street Pine Plains
Teacher: Mrs. Lillian Cedeño


When you know two languages it opens a lot of doors for you. It opens a lot of doors for you because being a bilingual person has a lot of advantages. A person who knows two languages is very lucky because knowing two languages can be very useful. It can be very useful because you can communicate with people from other countries. Knowing two languages gives more opportunities for the future. Some opportunities that you get by being a bilingual are that you get better jobs in the future. Being a bilingual it doesn’t just help the person who knows it but other people too. That’s why knowing two languages open the world to you.


A person who speaks two languages is very lucky, because they have the opportunity for a better future. There are some jobs that prefer or want a person who speaks two languages. They might want a person who is bilingual because they might work with international countries. It’s good to know two languages because is not only for getting better opportunities for the future, but because a bilingual person can help other people who migrated to another country and doesn’t know the language. When people moved to a different country the really have a hard time because they don’t know the language and because they don’t know the language they cant communicate. The same thing happens when a kid moves to another country and goes to school and they don’t know the language, they also have really hard time because they can't communicate with other people. That is why it's good to know two languages because the person who helps that people is the person who knows the two languages.


When a person knows two languages, they can travel to different countries. Knowing a second language it really helps when a person travels to another country because they can communicate with other people. They don’t have to look for a person to translate them. When a person travels to another country and knows the language they can learn the country’s culture. They can learn the country’s holidays, traditions, and about the people. They can also get to learn the history of that country. When a bilingual person travels to another country they can always make new friends. Why? Because they know the language and they can communicate to different people.


In conclusion being a bilingual helps a lot in life. A bilingual person can get a lot of opportunities in the future. They get opportunities in their future like getting a better job. Being a bilingual doesn’t just help the person who knows the language but it also helps other people. It also helps other people because the person who knows two languages can translate them. When a person knows two languages it also helps when traveling, because they don’t have to look for a person to translate them. They can communicate with other people by themselves, make new friends, and learn new stuffs. That’s why I think two languages benefits you a lot in life.

University & Adult

Lau, Wing Suet (Patricia) 
Adult Literacy Program
Chinese American Planning Council
New York, NY 10013
Teacher: Mae Liu


We all live in a very diverse world. There are many countries, nationalities, cultures, languages. I think that knowing two languages can help me to talk with people and understand them better in my everyday life, at work, in travel.


Knowing two languages is really useful in such a diverse city as New York. There are many restaurants, cafes and shops where people speak their native language. I can go to a Portuguese restaurant and order some traditional food or buy some strange fruit in Chinatown and ask how to prepare it.  By speaking a foreign language I can learn from people something new about their culture and just make new friends.


Knowing two languages can give me more opportunity to get a well-paid and interesting job. Employers prefer workers who speak several languages, because these people can deal with clients from different countries. In the United States I have seen advertisements from different companies that hire people who know Russian, Spanish, Chinese or other languages. It is more useful for workers who work closely with people, such as a secretary, a person in customer service or even a pharmacist. I saw such advertisements back in my country also.


Second, traveling is easier and more interesting if one knows foreign languages. I can understand people better on the street and will know about their culture and traditions not only from guidebooks, but directly from citizens of that country. When I was in France two years ago, I didn’t know French and couldn’t speak English well, either. I was very shy about ordering food or  buying things, and I was afraid of getting lost also. I wanted to speak with French people, but I could not. If I had known French, my trip would have been more interesting to me.


Also, watching movies and reading books are more interesting in their original language. When books or movies are translated they are changed a little, because many jokes and idioms are very difficult to translate. And, as a result, the author’s message is more difficult to understand.


To summarize, knowing two languages can give me new opportunities to find a good job, communicate and interact with other people better. All that makes my life richer and more interesting.



Win Aung (Wilson) Ko, Advanced Adult ESL
College of Mount Saint Vincent Institute for Immigrant Concerns
Teacher: Diana Schoolman


Knowing Three Languages Opens Many Worlds

In this age of globalization, people are used to dealing with speakers of other languages every day. Knowing other languages is not only a way to have more personal friendships;it can lead to professional opportunities as well.

I am from Burma. When I came to the United States, I thought that speaking English would be useful enough. I couldn’t imagine the difficulties I would face in New York. When I would speak with my landlords, they would say ¿Como esta? I wondered what they were talking about! Later, I found out that they were speaking in Spanish. After that, whenever we talked, they would teach me a few Spanish words.


At first, I was not interested in learning Spanish. But one day, something happened to me that made me change my mind. One day I went to the Subway restaurant to eat lunch. I saw that there was a communications breakdown between the restaurant servers and some customers. The customers couldn’t speak English, and the servers couldn’t understand Spanish. The servers couldn’t figure out what the customers wanted. I thought I recognized some of the Spanish words that they were saying. So, I decided to help them. I asked them ¿Necesitan ayuda? Fortunately, the customers understood my pronunciation, and started talking to me very fast. I couldn’t understand most of the words, but I did understand one word: seguro. So, I told the server that I could help them out.


I asked them what kind of pan they wanted. I knew that was “bread,” in Spanish. They replied blanco italiano. I wasn’t sure about the word blanco, but I thought they might be talking about Italian bread. I helped them as best I could. It took me only ten minutes. They were very grateful, and they bought me a bottle of soda. I told them gracias. After I finished ordering my food and was about to leave, I heard somebody calling me. It was a Chinese man, who followed me out and invited me to work in his restaurant. Until that time he had had only Chinese employees, but none of them could understand Spanish. He saw my success with Spanish-speaking customers, so he wanted to keep me there to help with Spanish speakers.


I was shocked by his offer. I only knew a few Spanish words! Why did he want to hire me? But I didn’t want to miss that opportunity, so I accepted it. I told him that I would try my best. That day was such an unusual day in my life. Here I am from Burma, living in an English-speaking country, working for a Chinese restaurant owner, and helping with Spanish . Only in New York…..


That night, I treated my landlords to Subway sandwiches. I told them muchas gracias! and I decided to learn more and more Spanish. I thought that, if I could benefit so much from knowing a few words in Spanish, who knows what would happen if I learned more! So, if knowing two languages opens up a world , then knowing three languages can open up several more worlds – – worlds of friendship, job opportunities and a better life.


Congratulations to all particants in the 4th Annual Essay Contest!