Monday, 14 October 2013
Step into the Big Wide World
On Friday I was chatting with a young woman and my recent holiday popped into the conversation. She had never visited Tenerife and was inquisitive as to what it had to offer.
Following ten minutes, or so of probing questions she decided that she had found a potential place to spend her next vacation. Finally she asked, "Do they speak English there?" When I informed her that Spanish was the inhabitant's first language, her enthusiasm suddenly came to an abrupt halt.
Seeing her reaction to my reply, I explained that she wouldn't have any trouble communicating with the islanders, as English was widely spoken. She smiled, but I could see that her initial excitement had most definitely waned.
This isn't the first time I've been asked this question following a trip to Europe, or further afield and it never ceases to amaze me that individuals are put off visiting another country, just because English isn't the first language.
In our schools the uptake of language courses such as French, German, Spanish has diminished over the years and I find that difficult to comprehend. Not only because more of us desire to holiday overseas and experience different cultures; but because in times when jobs are very scarce, having an extra string to our bow could open the door to a whole lot more job opportunities.
It's time that we make it compulsory to learn another language in school, that's if we want to step into the big wide world we live in.