Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Everyone speaks English…don’t they?

If we had a pound for every time we heard someone say this.  It’s probably fair to say that most of us have visited a country where we don’t speak the language, and it’s also probably fair to say that we don’t lose too much sleep over that fact.  Why? Because we don’t see it as an issue; we’ll get by somehow won’t we?  Most people speak English anyway, so someone will be able to interpret for us or get us out of a potentially tricky situation if needs be – right? 

Admittedly, it’s a bit of a lazy attitude, but it’s no secret that the number of Brits who speak a foreign language fluently are in the minority; and you’ve only to look at recent national newspaper headlines highlighting the threat that language departments at Universities may have to close down due to lack of the subject’s uptake, to understand its apparent growing lack of popularity.

But did you know that 5.7 billion people worldwide DON’T speak English?  And did you know that this represents around 82% of the world’s population? Interestingly, it’s probably not the figure most of us would expect to hear.  But unfortunately there seems to be an ongoing assumption that almost everyone overseas has first-class fluency in the English language, when evidently that’s not the case.

It begs the question, what kind of situation could you find yourself in while abroad, should someone misunderstand what you are saying?  An embarrassing one?  Maybe.  A costly one? Perhaps. A dangerous one?  Indeed.  The possibilities of all of these scenarios and more are very real for any one of us, so it’s probably time that we took some sort of action to safeguard ourselves against getting caught out next time we’re abroad.  Drop in next time for some helpful advice and top tips on dealing with the language barrier… 

No comments:

Post a Comment