The Andrew Peach show on BBC Radio Berkshire this morning asked its listeners: ‘why should we learn another language when English is the international language?’
Really? Is that STILL a question asked in 2012?
I’m sure that Andrew Peach had for idea to get everyone thinking and throw a spanner in the works so he will forgive me when I say that, in my opinion, (and the opinion of most I believe – and hope) this was a 19th century comment in a 21st century society!
Andrew made a remark that with the increasing use of social media and its crucial role in worldwide communication, English was as proeminent as ever and therefore, the use of other modern foreign languages on the decline.
I think the key word here is indeed communication. Social media have helped people from all walks of life and from anywhere in the world communicate freely, live. People feel closer; they share ideas and opinions and therefore want to speak the same language. This means that increasingly, English speakers want to master another language.
One of my favourite quotes is from Nelson Mandela: ‘you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.’ How so very true.
My late grandma used to say: ‘you jump on a plane as often as I used my bike at your age!’ Yes, it is true. I do. And I like to be polite and courteous when I arrive at destination.
Mentalities have changed. People no longer learn a language because they have to but because they want to.
Ten years ago, our business clients felt the need to learn a foreign language to build rapport with prospects and close more deals. They still do, except now (and The VICI language Academy’s figures show), up to 75% of companies with cross border offices will invest simply because they want their staff to communicate better amongst themseves and improve performances at work. And this applies to any foreign language: French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, Turkish… No exception at all.
So, here we are, Andrew, we said it and will say it again; communication is key and multilingualism a true asset!