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After Brexit , trade agreements with China, Russia and other developing markets will lead to missed deals for the UK if negotiations are only conducted in English. The time has long passed for a strategic investment in languages — the scale of the losses is already known.

And research over the past 20 years shows amply that English as a lingua franca differs in numerous ways from native English. Professor Jennifer Jenkins Southampton.

The Roots Of America’s Deficit In Foreign Language Education

Say no more except perhaps that he should have said a woman or man. Being able to converse with someone from another country in their native tongue is the only way to fully understand what makes them unique, and how they are both the same as and different from us. When I first went to live in Germany in , the cost of an international phone call home was prohibitively expensive and there was only German on the TV.

Admittedly there were a fair few Germans who spoke better English than I did German, but you could avoid them if you tried. It was harder to avoid my fellow English students there, which held back my linguistic development for a while. But when the American Community Survey an ongoing survey from the Census Bureau arrived in my mailbox last month, posing that question, I had to answer no, because we speak only English in my home.

Every census in the United States since except for one, in has asked about language characteristics, and its question has always seemed to assume that English is the only language relevant for the aspects of life that take place outside the home. This assumption, though outdated, is somewhat understandable.

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Are You Too Old to Learn Another Language? – America the Bilingual

In October, for instance, the Census Bureau released a list of jurisdictions with large numbers of voters who need voting instructions translated in a language other than English. View all New York Times newsletters. Nonetheless, to better map American language abilities, the census should ask the same question that the European Commission asked in its survey in Can you have a conversation in a language besides your mother tongue?

Until the census question is refined, claims about American monolingualism will almost certainly be overstated. The celebrated multilingualism of not just Europe but also the rest of the world may be exaggerated. But the statistics tell a murkier story.

Brain benefits and other advantages of learning a foreign language

Recently, the Stockholm University linguist Mikael Parkvall sought out data on global bilingualism and ran into problems. In those countries, Mr.

Why these multilingual school kids want to learn more languages

Parkvall calculated in a study not yet published , the average number of languages spoken either natively or non-natively per person is 1. Piecing together the available data for the rest of the world as best he could, he estimated that 80 percent of people on the planet speak 1. The average American may be no more monolingual or less multilingual than any other average person elsewhere on the planet.

Are We Really Monolingual?

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