We are no longer a nation of polyglots

February 8, 2012 at 1:40 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Elizabeth I spoke six languages fluently. Elizabeth II speaks only one fluently: French. When did learning languages stop being a priority in this country?

I did three languages at A-Level: French, German and Latin. I use Latin in crosswords, French rarely and German on a daily basis (mainly to tweet, admittedly, but at least I’m using it). It’s a wonderful thing to be sat on the train and to understand what the bitchy group of teenagers is saying about you. Also, it’s rather handy on Twitter when you can understand French and German speaking spammers.

It’s rare for me to speak German at work, although I did spend three very tedious months at P & O booking ferries for German speakers (I once knew all sorts of exciting camper van – related vocabulary, but those words are now buried somewhere on the right side of my brain). I do agree, however, that Britain’s poor linguistic efforts must have contributed to our failing economy. More importantly, there is something deeply wrong with not only a government, but also a culture, which fails to value foreign language learning.

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