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Spain: 47% of adults don´t speak a foreign language

Spain: 47% of adults don´t speak a foreign language

Old Sep 25th, 2009, 12:11 AM
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Spain: 47% of adults don´t speak a foreign language

Sad, but that´s the way it is. Almost half of the adult population can´t speak any other language but Spanish. We are behind Portugal and Bulgaria. Who´s to blame for this situation?
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 12:18 AM
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I'd be surprised if 53% of Americans or British spoke a foreign language.
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 12:47 AM
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The overwhelming majority of Spain's (and Portugal's and Bulgaria's) adult population received most of their education while the country was under the sway of an isolationist dictator.

And few of you - at any rate by British or German standards - ever leave the country.

So why would they speak a foreign language? And why should they?

Contrary to the endless self-interested propaganda of language teachers (and the boasts of those of us who have a bit of a gift for languages), speaking foreign languages isn't a fundamental human need. Nice competence to have - but so is horse whispering or knitting.

If I were Spanish, I'd pay a great deal more attention to my compatriots' literacy, numeracy and scepticism. The difference between an ordinary gullible fool and a multilingual gullible fool is that the linguist believes even more crap than the monoglot.
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 01:22 AM
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You may be right to some extent, but Franco died 34 years ago...and by adults we undertand people over 18.

People in Spain travel a lot abroad, but true, we don´t "expatriate" as much as other countries. In any case, I feel that there´s a strong need for speaking other languages, even just for the sake of better comprehension of other cultures.

(a joke, badly translated: Swiss guy lost in a Spanish town. Asks a couple: Can you tell me how to get to the highway?, in English, the couple don´t anwer. SVP, pourriez-vous me dire comment trouver la autoroute? No answer. He tries again in German. No answer. He finally tries in Portuguese. No answer either. So he leaves, frankly irritated. The lady in the couple tells her husband "maybe we should learn to speak another language". Her husband replies "What the heck for? This guy spoke four and it helped him nothing!!"
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 01:34 AM
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So if they speak Catalan, Gallego, or Basque besides Castilian, those would not count because they are domestic languages?
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 01:37 AM
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Correct, I think the poll is based on "non spoken in Spain" languages.
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 01:46 AM
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Mikelg writes: "Sad, but that´s the way it is. Almost half of the adult population can´t speak any other language but Spanish. We are behind Portugal and Bulgaria. Who´s to blame for this situation?"

I can's speak for Bulgaria; but Spain was isolated from the rest of Europe in the years following World War II. The U.S. 'Marshall Plan' was helping to rebuild Infrastructure in Countries like France and Benelux and even Germany; but Spain was left to fend for itself. Being snubbed like that probably pushed Spain further into Isolationism. Who's to blame?? Politics!

flanneruk answers: "The overwhelming majority of Spain's (and Portugal's and Bulgaria's) adult population received most of their education while the country was under the sway of an isolationist dictator."

Education in other languages was, for the most part, not available for Spaniards, in Spain during the Franco years.

Uno, Grande, y Libre: the slogan Spanish Pesetas had on the 'tails side' of coins and paper money. It referred to the Nation itself (no Autonomous Communities) and to a need for a universal language.

Universality of el idioma castellano was Franco's Policy during the years he reigned as el Caudillo. Schools were not allowed to teach Galego or Euskera or Catalan. There was little interest in Foreign language studies.
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 01:50 AM
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Perhaps a large number of Spaniards who do already speak a foreign language are already living outside Spain?
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 01:56 AM
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65% of Britons say they speak no foreign language so I wouldn't worry too much about the Spaniards. Like English it is a world language so many people around the world speak a form of it, which discourages learning another language I think. Give the different histories of the two countries I would say the Spanish percentage is pretty good - I expect most young adults speak at least a little English in Spain, even if the older ones only spekk one language.

http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=108141
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 02:01 AM
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Oh and in the US 20% of the population speak a language other than English as their first language, so it is difficult to get figures for how many have learned a second language, other than English.
Spanish is the most popular second language to learn in the US, as well as being the most common first language among those for whom English is a second language.
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 02:10 AM
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Mike, having gusts from all over Spain I feel I can suggest that the teaching in the schools is to blame for the poor language skills. However most of my gusts know a good deal of English and their English grammar is very good, but when it comes down to the spoken word it is where the system lets it’s pupils down.
However I am surprised by the findings of the report that the foreign language skills of the British are rated so high. The Dutch are perfect, my wife is Dutch and speaks several languages.
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 02:20 AM
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many of my friends [here in the UK] are busy learning different languages - within our office alone we cover french, italian and greek.

but I suspect we are unrepresentative. when I was a primary school governor [children aged 5-11], and we tried to introduce french into the curriculum, great acrimony was heaped upon our heads my parents who thought that it would interfer with their chidlren learning english. our explanations that, as well as having the benefits of learnnig about another culture, it would actually help the children with their native tongue, fell on deaf ears.

from my own perspective, I learnt more about english grammar from learning german than I ever did from my english lessons. and i am sure that I get more out of foreign travel when I have some idea of the language, if it's only how to ask for a beer.
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 02:41 AM
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I think the problem here is these Spaniards over 18 have studied English for more than 10 years, most of them, and can still not speak.

Probably for the same reason Spain has one of the highest failure rates in schools.


I would dare say adults over 50 probably do not speak many languages, but I would be surprised for those between 18-40 not speaking.. even poorly.

Also, under Franco, most students studied French.
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 02:43 AM
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Also, in the 70's all the native English teachers at public institutions, legal residents but not nationals, were relieved of their jobs, at least in Valencia.

So.. as they say in Spain. we have what we deserve.
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 02:45 AM
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Spanish goverment and educational system has no interest in spaniards speaking a foreigh language as they are convinced thar Spanish is the language of the future and will be spoken by the majority of the world population.

Please do not comment on this statement. Or otherwise do it in spanish.
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 02:52 AM
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Funny, though, the high number of adults that swear they speak English...and when they have to prove it, it´s something like Indian English...so the real results of the poll may be even worse.

As a (former) English teacher, I have to agree that the pressure on learning other languages is just formal...people just find it too hard. And when kids spend their summers learning English abroad, they stay together all the time, speaking Spanish.

car, eso que dices no tiene mucho sentido...
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 04:13 AM
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"I think the problem here is these Spaniards over 18 have studied English for more than 10 years, most of them, and can still not speak."

Ditto here in Britain, I think. I studied French at school for 9 years, between the ages of 9 and 18, and I'd hesitate to claim I speak it. At least in those days, teaching was gearewd towards being able to read and write a language rather than being able to speak it well.

As for "I would dare say adults over 50 probably do not speak many languages" - I think that would depend on the country but I daresay may be true for over 50s in Spain. I am British and over 50 and would hazard a guess that more school pupils studied at least one language at school in my day than do today.

hetismij, surely more than 20& of the US population has a first language other than English ? Isn't Spanish supposed to become the most common language there in the not too distant future ?
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 04:26 AM
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Unless you are dropped off in a foreign land and forced to speak the new language, you will not learn it. If you live in spain your entire life and study english, but don't get to use it, of course you will never speak it. If you were forced to use it, then you would catch on quickly.
We visited relatives in Austria this summer and found everyone over 40 could only speak German. Everyone under 40 had a pretty good grasp of English, Italian, Croatian. Most could speak some English. The little children could only speak German.
In the US, I would say most adults only speak English. Spanish is more and more introduced because of all of our mexican immigrants. Since Spanish is being used more here, more people can learn it and apply it. My friend who is a nurse gets a lot of spanish speaking only immigrants into her maternity ward. She took spanish in school, but has learned the language through her daily work out of necessity.
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 04:34 AM
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"Everyone under 40 had a pretty good grasp of English, Italian, Croatian."

Simply cannot be true of Austrians. May be true of some families - but this is a classic example of why you shouldn't generalise from a few particulars

Personally I've never met an Austrian whose Italian went any further than being able to sing "Voi che sapete". And nary a one who spoke even a word of Croat.
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 04:37 AM
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Maybe it was just our family? We didn't talk much to people outside of the family, but some could speak croatian and some spoke italian. They all spoke english.(The under 40s that is).
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