Being English generally means that wherever I go in the world I can usually communicate with people in my own language. I have rarely met anybody when either holidaying or working in another country who doesn’t speak some English, and very often their English is very good indeed.
I believe this is the main reason the majority of British people cannot speak another language. In simple terms, we don’t have to.
This of course makes us lazy in respect of language learning, and, although I hate to admit it, also makes many of us appear arrogant as a result.
I have always had a desire to learn another language, and as my school did not give me any opportunity to do so, I have carried this desire through most of my adult life and shamefully, done nothing about it.
I had a couple of attempts at night classes to learn Spanish, but they were generally unsuccessful due to the class size being too small for the school or college to continue. (I was once sat in a class of only 2 people)
I can order a meal or drinks in Spanish and have once proudly asked for directions in Spanish from a local, but this was more as a result of me researching books and dictionaries than any college course.
Nowadays of course there is the good old reliable internet, a vast pool of material for just about any subject, and of course language learning is heavily represented, thereby quite simply, I no longer have any excuse not to at least try and learn another language.
I was lucky enough to spend two years working in Hamburg, in Northern Germany recently, and whilst there I decided to face my fears and enrol in an evening language course.
Although I could have easily spent all my time in Germany speaking only English (I would say 95% of the Germans I met spoke very good English), I wanted to show that I felt it was respectful for me to try and at least learn enough for a very basic conversation with my German colleagues.
Now, I can order food and drink with a fairly good chance of getting what I ordered, but I can hold only the most basic of conversations in German.
Although I am now back working in the UK, I don’t want to waste the little German I did learn, so I have started an online course to improve my very poor knowledge.
I cannot pretend it is easy, or that there are any short cuts, but I am determined to give it a good go!
I will update any progress as I go along….bis bald!