Multilingualism: A rewarding, nonlinear journey

Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute
Language learning
Second language teaching
Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute
Mylan Allen
Mylan Allen’s journey to graduation from OLBI’s Second Language Teaching program (with a specialization in teaching French and a minor in Spanish) is a tale of determination, resilience and drive. It’s also a testament to how a bilingual environment fosters creativity, motivates further learning and promotes an open-minded perspective on the world and its many cultures and languages.

Mylan, originally from Mississauga, Ontario, set his sights on Ottawa and its bilingual setting, planning for a natural continuation of the French immersion adventure he’d started in Grade 1 in a predominantly anglophone setting. When applying to pursue higher education, he knew he wanted an enriching experience away from home and exposure to more language study. The University of Ottawa’s proximity to Quebec and daily reality of alternating between two official languages helped sway his decision.

Multilingualism as a lifelong learning experience

Mylan was raised in a bilingual home, with English and Spanish used interchangeably and French part of his school experience. Teaching languages seemed like a natural fit.

But Mylan credits other experiences for his nonlinear journey of learning — and adaptability to the pandemic. For example, starting as a barber’s apprentice at 14, he developed essential communication skills, namely, attention to detail and empathetic listening with customers. Also, as a passionate gamer, he was well versed and comfortable interacting in the virtual world and thus faced less of a challenge living and learning online.

Mylan’s answer to life’s ebbs and flows is relentlessly positive and unfailingly constructive: “It’s very rare for me to stress because I look at things one of two ways: there are things that I can do something about and things that I can’t do anything about. Relax. Play some video games. Read a book. Go for a bike ride. These things are important. If you only focus on school, you’ll exhaust yourself.”

Graduation and beyond: The journey continues

So, four years after getting started on his uOttawa path, Mylan is proud to mark a defining moment —graduation — one of the many on a journey that has led him to speak three languages fluently while forming meaningful relationships with his peers and mentors.

“University is not a linear journey. You don’t need to do what everyone else is doing. […] Make your own future. Seize every opportunity.”

But Mylan’s ambitions don’t stop there. He’s already setting his sights on new goals as he prepares to embark on a master’s program in bilingualism studies with OLBI. Since 2019, OLBI has offered students the option of pursuing a double master’s with the Université de Lyon. Mylan is taking advantage of this exceptional opportunity to further expand his horizons and experience immersion in French, this time in France. It will also be an invaluable opportunity to continue growing as a future language teacher.

As we congratulate Mylan on completing his first higher education degree, let’s also heed his advice:

“University is not a linear journey. You don’t need to do what everyone else is doing, you don’t need to follow Step One, then Two, then Three. Sometimes you end up going from step one, to step six, to step three, and then maybe even back to step one. The first mistake everyone makes is to compare themselves to others, but there is not a single person doing what you are doing in the same order. Make your own future. Seize every opportunity!”

The Second Language Teaching program opens doors to the world of second language teaching and learning. Discover it!

The Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute’s Master of Arts (MA) in Bilingualism Studies offers an advanced education in several areas of applied linguistics, including bi- and multilingualism, methodological and technological innovations in adult second language instruction, assessment of adult second language competence, as well as language policy and planning.