Living Abroad Means Learn the Language

September 30th, 2010 by The JetSetter Team | Comments Off on Living Abroad Means Learn the Language

living abroadIt seems almost silly to ask but, if you’re going to be living abroad, why wouldn’t you want to learn the language? Do you want to make life more difficult for yourself? We’re just saying…when in Rome, it makes sense to speak Romish or whatever that language is. What’s that from the peanut gallery? Italian? Oh, yeah. And don’t start whining about how hard it is.

If you’re going to the time, expense, and risk of living abroad, give yourself the best chance for success by actually being able to communicate with your new neighbors, at least on some level of proficiency. A recent article in Escape From America Magazine caught our attention. In it, writer Paul Allen wrote about his experience at a conference in Vienna attended by folks from all over Europe and the Middle East.

Allen was amazed at the level of English skill exhibited by attendees who were using it as their second or even third language. Yes, English is still the language of business but that sentiment is not going to do you much good when you’re trying to buy a bar of soap in Managua. Don’t be the ugly American who thinks the rest of the world should bend to your accident of birth.

Allen went on to quote a 2005 European Commission study which reported that the following percent of adults in these countries were able to converse in English:

Sweden 85%
Denmark 83%
Netherlands 79%
Luxembourg 66%

Add to these amazingly high number that over 50% speak English in Finland, Slovenia, Austria, Belgium, and Germany. Kind of makes us look inadequate, huh? A Dutch friend who Allen spoke with told him that she believed that American television had a great influence since the shows run with Dutch subtitles rather than being dubbed. A last tidbit for you. English is the third most spoken language in the world after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. Americans planning on living abroad in a Central American country, take heed. They speak

Spanish there.

The Jetsetter Team

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