Monday, March 12, 2007

Le mot juste...

I was genuinely pleased to hear on the news today that as part of a curriculum overhaul due by 2010, it will be compulsory for seven to fourteen year olds to study foreign language.

I was fairly lucky to have attended a junior scholl that taught French from the age of nine and our secondary school encouraged French and German for those who were interested. I know I speak from a biased perspective as languages were always my strongest subjects, although it still amuses me that I earned higher GCE grades in French and German than I did in English!

However, as I have grown older and travelled more widely, it remains a source of total embarrassment to me how the English arrogantly expect people to speak their lanuguage wherever they go - and to our complete shame, they usually do. I guess you're almost entitled to expect it from receptionists of large hotel chains or airport staff but I'm talking about everyday folk such as taxi drivers and waiters/waitresses.

It is something I have frequently discussed with my Polish and Portuguese colleagues and from their perspective, it is simply a fact of life that of you want any kind of reasonably paid job, then you would need to be fluent in English. I suppose we are where we are on that score but I've always believed that a little courtesy goes a long way, even though I may often be met with a knowing smile and an "aww bless him for having a go" type expression.

Admittedly I'm far from fluent, I'm proud to be able to mutter a few appropriate phrases in about four languages other than my own but if you're looking in Sis, sorry - my Japanese is still not quite up to scratch...

8 comments:

delcatto said...

Speaking bi-lingually, that is English and fluent drunkenese, I heartily endorse your comments.

"Turning Japanese,
I think I'm turning Japanese,
I really think so..."

LuvlyLittleSister said...

Es stört mich mehr, daß ich so viele andere Sprachen gelernt habe aber wenige Möglichkeiten habe diese Sprachen zu üben, außer nutzlose Bemerkungen auf einem Blog zu lassen.

It bothers me more that I have learnt so many other languages, yet have few opportunities to use them other than leaving useless comments on a blog!

(They are also easily forgotten, proven by the fact that I used the dictionary for almost every other word!)

Mach's gut!

LuvlyLittleSister said...

I am hoping nobody can actually speak german well enough to pick out that none of my adjectives have the correct endings (or if they do, I just got lucky!)

Seany said...

Arigato :)

woja said...

Sie und mich auch — ein bischen Deutsch et un peu Francais go a long way on this little planet of ours.

I could tell stories about translating orders into French for 40 English tourists in a small cafe in Tunisia… …but I won't. Damn, already have.

Richard Papps said...

I agree it's a good thing we should be teaching our kids a foreign language as young as possible. However, as a primary school teacher, I wonder how we are going to fit it in to an already crowded curriculum.

Fil said...

If you're in the Tap when my bro is in he'll teach you plenty Japanese lingo. His son now works in Japan as an English teacher and loves the way of life and the good manners the Japanese have.

Seany said...

Woja - I had to speak French once in a hotel in Swansea. Perhaps I should have learnt a few words of Welsh.

Richard - I admit I hadn't considered that. Cancel their playtimes perhaps?!

Fil - I'm afraid that all too often in the Tap I even struggle with English!