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Old 01-15-2012, 08:16 PM
 
Location: southern california
47,963 posts, read 43,402,587 times
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im not from england but can tell u the english i knew in france spoke good french.
i think the american thing has no roots, it sure does not come from our birth as a nation many of the founding fathers spoke good french.
i think it comes from 50 years of the good life. there was a 2 year college foreign language requirement in 68 when i went to college in houston. they got rid of that.
we dont learn foreign language bek we dont have to. i got ID, immigrant drive--- lived overseas a long time. learned spanish and french bek if i didnt i would have gone hungry. that is how mexicans learn english here, its learn english or starve. most americans dont know about that, but its comin.
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Old 01-15-2012, 08:17 PM
 
Location: Leeds, UK
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I'm not entirely sure, but I believe in the UK you take a language in primary (elementary) school, and then when you reach year 9, you can decide whether you want to continue doing languages or not. I chose not, because I found French utterly boring and had little to no interest in learning it. Now that I'm older I kind of wish I had taken German or something.
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Old 01-15-2012, 08:46 PM
 
Location: Brisbane
2,416 posts, read 2,159,739 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
You took the words out of my mouth. Americans, British and Australians usually don't have/feel the need to learn a foreign language. Even when travelling I noticed many Australians don't learn a word of the language. The locals try to learn English to cater for the tourists, their cash-cow, not the other way around. I still like to learn some local phrases because it makes me feel like I'm immersing myself in the local culture a bit more.

It's been compulsory for school children to take at least two years of a second language in school for years now. I think now it's more, including compulsory LOTE (language other than English) in primary school. I'm probably like many kids though. I learned Japanese for two years in year 7 and 8 but honestly, I remember a handful of words and phrases. I do wish I'd applied myself to learning it more since I find Japan interesting. Most people will just forget what they learned unless they have reason to use it. In the past most people didn't even learn a language. Fewer people even left the country so why would they, out of pure academic interest, as a hobby?

I should mention, however, that Australia is a nation of immigrants and many people do speak another language because their parents do or that was their mother tongue. My parents were from Singapore and Malaysia, both English speaking countries, so we always just spoke English.
Yep I am exactly the same except I did Jappanesse for 3 years in high school. The number of times ive used it since then however = zero. Every Japanesse person i run into speaks english.
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Old 01-15-2012, 08:54 PM
 
9,440 posts, read 7,147,739 times
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The thing is that learning a foreign language is not easy. It's like learning how to play a musical instrument. To become proficient at it takes years and years of practice. Most people won't put in the necessary effort unless they either have to or have a passion for it.

In the U.S., just about every major language is spoken by certain groups of people since it's such a diverse country. Yet, few people make a real effort to learn a language other than English and whatever other language may have been spoken at home while they were growing up.

Last edited by BigCityDreamer; 01-15-2012 at 09:08 PM..
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Old 01-15-2012, 09:04 PM
 
Location: Minnesota, USA
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Has anybody here noticed that when a Brit tries to speak Spanish, the result is usually awful, even worse than a "gringo" accent? That's been my experience.
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Old 01-15-2012, 09:41 PM
 
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I saw this video earlier today, and I thought it would fit in well with the topic. It's pretty funny:


Catherine-Tate-Lauren-French Oral - YouTube
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:24 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
38,728 posts, read 34,414,605 times
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Have you ever noticed that when US TV networks air live reports from foreign countries, the correspondents usually have British accents? It's because foreign correspondents need to be at least bilingual, and the UK is the only place American news networks can find bilingual native-English speakers who have journalistic qualifications. We mostly depend on free-lance reporters to cover these stories, and there just aren't any American freelancers overseas, so we need to use British ones.
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Old 01-16-2012, 03:19 AM
 
5,887 posts, read 4,706,927 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JPits312 View Post
...Are Brits as well educated on foreign languages as other Europeans are on English? Is it a wholly European thing to be proficient in a language that is not your own? Or are native-English speakers just pathetically lazy about learning other languages?
Not from what I have seen and heard, they are as dead set against learning a foreign language as Americans...even when they live in a foreign country. Can't tell you how many times I've heard some Brit resident complain to a Portuguese person, "Why don't you speak English?!!!!"
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Old 01-16-2012, 03:26 AM
 
Location: Chicago
35,640 posts, read 53,228,923 times
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Where "Americans" are concerned -- same applies to English-speaking Canadians for that matter -- it has little to do with "resistance" and more to do with pragmatism. There are dozens of principle languages in Europe. In North America, there are exactly three. And of those three, English is the predominant language over approximately 75% of North America's land mass. And of the small sliver that's primarily French-speaking, roughly half of them speak English too. So you can roam over roughly 85% of the continent knowing only English and get by just fine. And we can thank the once-prolific British Empire, and subsequently, British and American cultural and economic dominance for spreading the language around the world making the case for learning another language even less compelling. Travel to Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, India, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong... I'm set.

Same basic issue in Latin America. How many people outside of Brazil* know any other language but Spanish? Answer: not many, because there's little need for them to.

*(Yes I know there are other little odd-man-out countries in Latin America like Belize and Suriname that are not Spanish-speaking, so hold off on the "corrections" )
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Old 01-16-2012, 06:55 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,693 posts, read 15,670,187 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
Have you ever noticed that when US TV networks air live reports from foreign countries, the correspondents usually have British accents? It's because foreign correspondents need to be at least bilingual, and the UK is the only place American news networks can find bilingual native-English speakers who have journalistic qualifications. We mostly depend on free-lance reporters to cover these stories, and there just aren't any American freelancers overseas, so we need to use British ones.
I actual notice that too here. Maybe it's because the BBC etc has a more global coverage?
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