Linguistically Challenged Britons Shun Non-English-Speaking Countries: Study

LONDON ~ Britons avoid going on holiday to places where they cannot speak the language, a study says, reporting sometimes embarrassingly low linguistic skills.

Only two percent of Britons can ask how to find the toilet in the main language they learned at school, said the BBC poll that questioned 3,000 adults about their language knowledge.

Forty percent of Londoners could remember the foreign word for “beer,” but only three percent knew how to say “sorry,” said the study for comedy program School’s Out.

Nine out of 10 Britons would be less likely to holiday in a country where they could not understand the locals, it said, reporting that the average Briton remembers only seven words of the language they learned at school.

The principal reason for hesitating over their travel plans was not laziness, but embarrassment at their poor linguistic skills, said the show’s French teacher, Virginie Hopstein.

“It’s a real shame that Brits are avoiding visiting certain countries around the world due to language barriers and are therefore missing out on experiencing diverse cultures,” she said.

“Unfortunately, C’est La Vie!”

French is the main second language studied in British schools, followed by German and Spanish. But barely a quarter of those asked could remember over 10 basic words, such as “hello” and “thank you.”

Attitudes to language skills vary in different parts of the country.

Most Scots traveling to foreign countries tend not to try to speak the language for fear of looking stupid, while 63 percent of people from the English Midlands make an attempt at being understood, said the poll.

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