Recently, a new study came out, which ranked the countries of the world according to who spoke the best English – not including the English speaking countries of course.
Guess what: Denmark was number two on that list only outscored by the Dutch (arghhh), which actually makes perfect sense, because both the people of Denmark and Holland travel a lot and both countries are small and the people speak a weird language that no one understands. We need to be good in English. We need it to communicate with the rest of the world. Even though I know there are still people from my mums generation who when visiting a Spanish restaurant point at the bar and shout ØL (beer) a little bit louder than they normally would so the stupid native waiter can understand, what they say.
Communication is difficult but also a beautiful way to get to know new people and a new cultures.
I myself know Dutch people with really good language skills, but I must say I have also come across Dutch men who sound more like the cook from the Muppet Show that people who belong to the best English speaking people of the world. ‘A hybbi di a hybbi hyb’ (that is how the cook and the Dutch men that I have met sounds)
Living abroad is actually the best thing you can do to improve your language skills both for you and your kids.
I live in a very international environment, with a lot of different nationalities. At my kids school there are over 25 different nationalities. I had planned to learn Spanish when I moved to Spain, which I have. I am not fluent, (which my son tells me all the time..argh) but I consider myself speaking a fairly good Spanish now, but of course with place for improvements. Have I done an effort? Ohh yeah, It did not came falling out of the sky. But what actually surprised me the most was how much my English improved. Its a bit comical to move to Spain and then you realize that your English skills improves a lot. Thanks to my English and American friends here, I now know that a ‘Hubby’ is someone you kiss, and If you do not kiss him you ‘rough’ with him. That pudding and a nice cup of tea is actually something the Englishmen enjoys and they do sleep in a pyjamas. Sweet right?
The article that I mention in the beginning of this post also mentions that if English was not the most spoken language in the World, Spanish would have the potential to take that position in the future.
So even though I sometimes do not like my kids being in a school uniform with a tie (how on earth can you play football in a tie?) and being a part of the English school system, I must say with those 3 languages in their backpack they will thank me later in life.
They will have the opportunity to really get to know people all over the world. To really get under their skin because they were brought up with the two languages that most people speak in the world. They might even be the generation of the future that will save the world from wars because they can actually communicate and understand people, not only on an academically level but also on an emotional level. So lets all give our kids that possibility – to be able to communicate in many languages so they do not go ‘hybbi de hybbi de hyb,’ when big environmental problems have to be solved or wars have to be stopped from starting.