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Report Says the British Stagger at Learning Foreign Languages

Report Says the British Stagger at Learning Foreign Languages
on April, 17 2013

With globalization and the increasing sophistication of modes of communication, it has become doubly important for people to learn a foreign language or two. In the international community such as the United Nations, the languages used aside from English are German, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish and French. Therefore it is a good idea to learn any of these international languages.

German invaders and settlers brought English, which is a West Germanic language into Britain. Old English became the core language of the literary circle in Britain, while the contacts with Scandinavians brought enriched lexicon and simplified grammar in the 8th and 9th centuries. Anglo-Norman language developed in the 11th century, which was further enhanced and developed alongside the development of other European languages. The English language further developed into what it is today from borrowing from other languages, including French, German, Dutch, Latin and Greek.

Given this diverse background on the English language, it is surprising that Britons find it difficult to speak another language.

Facility in speaking a foreign language

In an independent survey conducted last year, it was found out that British nationals do not learn foreign languages that well, compared to other Europeans. The survey results concluded that only about 11% of British nationals are capable of fluently speaking another language and that about 22% of Britons has no knowledge of even one word in a foreign language.

In comparison, the Germans have the most number of people that speak a second language. Only 1% of Germans does not have any knowledge of a foreign language, whereas 70% fluently speak another language. According to the survey of travelers, the Italians, French and Spanish, in that order, follow the Germans in their capability to speak another language fluently.

But this does not mean that Britons are completely unable to communicate at all while in a non-English speaking country, as 67% has knowledge of some basic terms that allows them to ask for directions or buy something.


The reason why Britons do not exert more effort in learning another language is because they expect that public signs in other countries would be in the local language with English translations. Out of the 2,508 British travelers who joined the survey, about 74% expected that they would meet people who speak English while they are traveling in a foreign country.

With this survey result, it stands as a good reminder of the need to learn a foreign language, which has now become a must, since the world is shrinking through globalization. It is also common knowledge that speaking another language is beneficial in today’s business scenario.

Bernadine Racoma

Bernadine is a writer, researcher, professional and multi-awarded blogger and new media consultant. She brings with her a rich set of experience in the corporate world, as well as in the field of research and writing. Having taken early retirement after working as an international civil servant and traveling the world for 22 years, she has aggressively pursued her main interest in writing and research. You can also find Bernadine Racoma at .

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