Most of us were introduced to languages at school and I am sure the majority regret that they did not take it more seriously. I for one took French at school for 6 years and after all those years of bashing out mind numbing grammar and conjugating irregular verbs the first words which in the past parted my lips when on French soil was ‘Parlez vous Anglais?’ Most French know that us Brits have had French at schools for just as long as they have English. This is perhaps why they get ruffled when most English insist that we all speak English in both England and France. Many will sit back and blame it on the ‘curse of the English’ but I prefer to pass blame to the British educational system who place more emphasis on writing post cards and reading poems than actually dealing with the real reason for the need to know a language.
During my time living in Germany I have learnt that there is only one way to learn a language and that is to get out and fully immerse oneself into a culture which will eventually lead to an understanding of the local language.
Language journeys (Sprachreisen ) are fast becoming a popular method in which to learn or improve on language skills. In the past a language journey consisted of student exchanges whereby students would swap lives for up to a year with a student from another country. This is still one of the most effective ways in which to learn a language but the face of international language travel has developed into an ever expanding industry. The ability to converse in multiple tongues is now and integral part of globalisation.
It is widely accepted that English is the most important language and as such it is the first choice for many to learn as a second language. Language journeys to England and Malta are the most popular destinations for Europeans to learn English. However, most European school leavers have a sufficiently high level of English and there is now an increased demand for learning Spanish, Italian, German and French. This in turn has given rise to a sharp increase in the amount of language schools to meet demands.
Mark Holland MBA CIM