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Foreign languages spoken in your country?

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1. Posted by steff (Travel Guru 1160 posts) 7y

I was suprised to read in a recent newspaper article (sorry, it's in German) that Germans are amongst the top of the list of people in the world, who can speak a foreign language. About 88 % of the professional people interviewed stated that they can speak English, about 20 % even know a second language different to their native tongue.
Got me thinking whether the World Cup in 2006 was a incentive for more people to learn another language or if in schools there's even more languages taught?
So what's the situation in your country? Do many people speak a second language? How are languages taught in school? And would you study the basics of the language of a country you travel to?

Steff

2. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 7y

I can't speak with 100% authority on the rest of the country, but in Quebec you have to pass French courses if you're studying in English, and pass English courses if you're studying in French. The French courses taken at an English-language school are much longer, more intense and begin earlier than the other way around--notably because Quebec, although bilingual in big cities, is officially a French-only province.

That said, I always found it silly that we were conjugating French verbs 12 ways to Sunday in grade 6, while our French counterparts were struggling with "cat", "dog" and "What a nice dress you have".

3. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5595 posts) 7y

Quoting steff

I was suprised to read in a recent newspaper article (sorry, it's in German) that Germans are amongst the top of the list of people in the world, who can speak a foreign language. About 88 % of the professional people interviewed stated that they can speak English, about 20 % even know a second language different to their native tongue.
Got me thinking whether the World Cup in 2006 was a incentive for more people to learn another language or if in schools there's even more languages taught?
So what's the situation in your country? Do many people speak a second language? How are languages taught in school? And would you study the basics of the language of a country you travel to?

Steff

Well, I am curious about that newspaper article, you can add the link here, because I can read and speak english and german;)
That's why I think that probably Netherlands is probably around that 88% as well, if not higher.
I guess Scandinavian countries, Netherlands and Germany are highest

I got English at school complimentary when I was 10, until I was 18 and then about half of my studybooks were in english anyway. It is actually much more pleasant because, speaking for myself, when I read an English text I remember the basic meaning (and most essential things) while in Dutch I try to remember everything...which is of no use
Then, when I was 12, I had French for about 4 years, and from 13 I had German until my 18th.
French was complementary for that 4 years, but I would definately for Spanish to be complementary, much more useful. Or otherwise a choice of those languages.

And yes, I do study the basics (sometimes) of languages of the country I am travelling to. Some spanish for example and even tried the cyrillic and georgian and armenian But most of it has been gone now because I drank too much wodka

4. Posted by magykal1 (Travel Guru 2026 posts) 7y

At my school they spake English and Cumbrian.

5. Posted by steff (Travel Guru 1160 posts) 7y

Thanks for your interesting and funny answers ( I bet Cumbrian is extremely helpful sometimes ;)) and for all of you who can read German you can find the article here.

I agree with Utrecht, that in the continental European countries a second language is probably a must, since our native languages are kind of difficult to learn, from what I hear about German at least.
I had English from grade 5 to grade 13 (apparently they teach it from grade 2 onwards now), Latin from grade 5 to 11 (hated it at the time but in hindsight I think it helped me a lot with learning Spanish and French), French from grade 7 to 11 and I studied Spanish at Uni.
All in all, it´s quite nice to be able to communicate in a few languages and I otherwise I try to say hello, goodbye, thank you and excuse me in the country's language I'm travelling to.

6. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 7y

Neal also studied French and German in Belfast; I think they had obligatory language courses there, too.

(On a side note, after speaking with the nice German lady at the clinic yesterday, he's now wowing me with renditions of "i sheissen in meine lederhosen" in a horrid old-lady voice.)

7. Posted by beerman (Respected Member 1631 posts) 7y

Here in FreedomLand™, it's the usual......studied ancient Greek, Latin, Serbo-Croatian, Medievel Dutch, Bullshit....most Americans are fluent in 15 or 20 different languages including Aramaic. But really, who isn't?

Wahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha....sorry Steff, couldn't resist......in truth, most Americans can barely walk and chew gum at the same time, me included. But in the immortal words of Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin'...

With the influx of Latinos to America, Spanish (and 200 dialects therein) is becoming more widespread. Fortunately, Quebec hasn't decided to invade, so French is not as popular.

I grew up with Spanish, though my fluency is now relegated to speaking in the present tense (I know there are other tenses, but damned if I can remember them). Ask T.....my French is very nearly superb, and if it weren't for the fact that I have no memory of tenses in French either, it would be flawless.

Alas, America is not terribly well-suited to accepting other languages...we try no to travel outside the bounds of our massive country (kidding). But then again, why do we need to? Almost everyone speaks English (kidding again).

Learn whatever you can of other languages. I've found in my travels that everyone appreciates even the slightest effort at speaking their language....except when I was in Paris for Bastille Day.....they weren't impressed with my Inspector Clouseau accent. Go figure.....

8. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 7y

Quoting beerman

Ask T.....my French is very nearly superb...

You IS! You IS fluent in French!

9. Posted by Utrecht (Moderator 5595 posts) 7y

Quoting beerman

Here in FreedomLand™, it's the usual......studied ancient , Medievel Dutch, :

O, gy Beerman, gy zult niet liegen

10. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 7y

To elaborate a bit on Beerman's post...

His "first tense" Spanish skills worked well in Panama. And, after a few tense moments with a police officer, who spoke at lightning speed in all tenses, there was an understanding. He was not inspecting our vehicle for contraband but asking for a ride to the police station - acting as tour guide and real estate agent en route. I do have to say - if you're Spanish is of a freshman-year-didn't-pay-attention-in-class-so-you-know-animals-and-freight-trains level, then by all means - travel with Kris. (I can read and comprehend more than I can speak the language, but...) Be warned... Do NOT necessarily repeat everything he tells you to say in Spanish. Though everyone you repeat these things to will laugh and wink at you, you've probably said something about being a crazy blonde Anglo woman who loves seeing pelicans or God only knows what else. Solution: smile and wander off to do some beach combing.

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As for what languages are taught in schools...
Back in the dark ages of my youth Latin was the biggy, though when I finally could take Latin, the school switched to Spanish. (Hence the not paying attention thing because it wasn't Latin.) In metropolitan areas, Spanish is offered. (When I changed schools, the language class also changed and German was available. Thinking I would probably never get to Germany, I chose study hall instead.) Interestingly, Chinese is the fastest growing language to be taught in US schools. (Article from 2008.)