Spaniards and the English language: Qu’est-ce que vous voulais?

Article published on March 9, 2009
community published
Article published on March 9, 2009
Written by Daniel Perez Torralbo Spain is not the only European country where you can hardly communicate with native people in English. The EU language policy “promotes multilingualism and aims for a situation in which every EU citizen can speak at least two foreign languages in addition to their mother tongue”.
This is not the case in countries like Hungary, Bulgaria, Spain or Czech Repulic, and that is really bad if we are sharing common spaces and policies in Europe.

Comparisions are odious but when it´s all about communitation tools, we need to set common standards because we have to understand each other, being independent at the same time. The efforts of the European Commission in this field are not enough to sorthen the gaps among citizens of different countries and this is not about who speaks the best or which national educational policy is working and which one isn´t. It´s much more complicated and it should be in the European political agenda. Less interest in language learning means a loss of interest in the EU itself and their citizens. For an English native speaker this may not be a problem but, on the other hand it could develop some feelings of superiority in the international context. There are also good English speakers in Sweeden, Luxembourg or even in Portugal. In countries like Spain you would have to be really passionate about languages if you want to learn a second one, or let´s just say English, and here are some of the possible causes, from my point of view

1.- Our language is romance-based. Qu’est-ce que vous voulais?

2.- This is a big country (for the European standard) and our language is the third most spoken language in the World.

3.- For a long time, even now, Spanish have made mockery about any other spanish talking in a foreign language, even if he/she is minister, prime minister, etc (wacth the videos below)

4.- There is no undertitled tv programmes and a few cinemas with original versions.

5.- English is not a subject in most of the University studies in Spain

6.- As a consequence of that, levels of English in primary and secondary school are extravagantly lower than the European standards.

While citizens are not interested in paying for learning and politics themselves don´t speak foreign languages, we can watch some videos and keep on laughing.

Jose María Aznar, former Spanish Prime Minister

José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Spanish Prime Minister

Emilio Botín, chairman of Banco de Santander

Francisco Franco, no comment