Saturday, August 04, 2007

LANGUAGE BARRIER HOLDING BRITONS BACK

According to the results of a recent BBC survey, many Britons are choosing not to visit certain holiday destinations because they are too embarrassed at not being able to speak the language. Instead they prefer to visit places where English is widely spoken and they are able to understand what the locals are saying.

French is widely taught as a second language in U.K. schools, closely followed by German and Spanish. However despite this it seems the average Briton can only remember about seven words or less of the language they learnt at school. Some could not even remember basic words like “Hello”. I must admit that I can remember very little of my French or German from schooldays, which is a bit sad, particularly as I used to be really good at German. It was one of my best subjects at school. But it’s like anything else unless you speak it and use the language everyday, it’s easily forgotten. However lack of language skills has never held me back, I usually play a language CD and take a phrase book when I go on holidays to help me along a little bit. I did this when I went to Italy. I personally think it’s sometimes fun to try and make yourself understood in another language, although some languages are harder to learn than others. C’est la vie!

5 comments:

Sheila said...

I wish we English speakers would at least attempt to learn and remember another language. My older son is fluent in Italian and my husband is studying the language. Me, I'm so lazy. I do know a few phrases and make an attempt when we travel.

Dirty Butter said...

I'm a little surprised this is true for England. That's always been my problem with learning and holding onto what I've learned with other languages. There was never anyone to practice with, never a chance to be around a native speaker. The only real exception in the US is Spanish. And that's another issue entirely. I don't speak Spanish to them, because I feel strongly that they should be learning English if they want to live here.

Naomi said...

Sheila, I always make an attempt to speak at least a few phrases of a foreign language when I travel abroad. It's fun learning and trying to make yourself understood in another language.

Rosemary, I'm afraid it's the same in England. We have so many foreign speaking people here now. Many Britons feel the same that they should make the effort to learn and speak English now they are living here. I think though we do have to remember that English is one of the hardest languages in the world to learn.

Dirty Butter said...

I agree that English is very hard to learn, but we have too many Spanish speaking people, dealing with the public, who don't seem to be making any effort to learn any English at all. We have even had trouble asking for mild sauce in several Mexican restaurants, even though we tell them "Salsa de Burro" if they don't understand our English, which is supposed to work! We got water without any ice not long ago, when we asked for water with no lemon. It's frustrating!

Naomi said...

I agree Rosemary if foreigners are working in public places they should be able to communicate with the public, which means being able to speak and understand at least some English. It's part of good customer service!