While I was watching the BAFTAs award ceremony last night something struck me with some force. The Artist won many awards and the mainly French actors/writers /production people who came up for their awards gave their acceptance speeches in excellent English. (Rather ironic when you consider the film is primarily a silent one!)
Can you imagine a reverse situation at an awards ceremony in France, Germany or Italy, for example, where English actors/production people gave their acceptance speeches in French or German or Italian? I don’t think so. It was some comfort to hear Stephen Fry, host for the night, break into French at one point but he’s hardly typical in terms of skills and intellect.
Why do so few English people speak another language? What goes so badly wrong with the teaching of languages at schools or is the malaise deeper seated than that? Does it link to our history as a colonial power or perhaps our geographical status as an island? Is the solution teaching languages at Primary level? Or perhaps the public doesn’t think it matters? Everyone speaks English, so no problem. What do you think?