Dexter has just finished his end-of-year exams and did quite well. In the subjects he likes that is. What was surprising, however, was that he did really well in German, because a) he really clashed with his German teacher last year, b) he’s not going to take it as a GCSE and c) he just never really enjoyed languages.
Which is the complete opposite of me. I loved learning languages at school, studied French and German, and got my highest O-level grade (yes, I’m that old), in French.
And now, ahem, some thirty years later, I still try and remember my rusty French whenever I travel abroad, or just throw in a random, “Ouvrez la fenêtre
Dexter,” at home, just to see his bemused reaction. (It’s strange the things you do to entertain yourself at home isn’t it?)
According to a recent study by Holiday Autos Car Hire, Brits, like me, are most familiar with French, with the average adult able to rattle off up to 15 words, but not wanting to show off, I reckon I know at least thirty. Impressive right?! So if I travel to France, I reckon I could ask where the bathroom is, order a beer and say my name – all vital stuff.
However, send me to Spain, and I can just about manage ‘Hola.’ In fact, the average Brit only knows eight Spanish words, so I’m seriously lacking.
It got me thinking. I miss studying new things. Having gone to university at the grand old age of 36, I miss learning something new because now, I feel stuck in a rut a bit. Treading water, working hard so I can just about pay my bills, whilst dreaming of travelling and being anywhere but in the UK right now. I have toyed with studying again, a language, perhaps at night school or with the OU, especially as Dexter is now learning Spanish, and thankfully, he is enjoying that much more than German. It would be nice to learn a language together wouldn’t it?
In the same survey I mentioned earlier, 23% said they holiday in popular resorts so that there was no need to make an effort and speak the local language. And I totally get that, it’s just easier isn’t it? But I always think it’s nice to show the locals that you’ve at least learnt the basics … ‘hello’, ‘how much?’, ‘goodbye’ etc. It’s just respectful isn’t it? We would want other nationalities to do the same when they visit England, so why shouldn’t we? I think a lot of people feel the same way as me, that it’s a bit embarrassing we don’t make more effort, so, I’ve decided I need to do three things this month:
- Keep working hard so I can afford a holiday in the first place.
- Research a long-distance language learning course to learn Spanish.
- If in doubt, YouTube some popular phrases.
So for my next trip away, I’m going to try not to resort to drawing pictures badly, speaking slower and louder, and actually just try to learn a few phrases so that I can converse with the locals. Unless, of course, I go back to Croatia – that language was ridiculously hard to learn!
I would love to hear from you if you’ve taken up a new language later in life, it might just give me the push I need. Adios for now!
* This is a collaborative post with Holiday Autos Car Hire.