20 Oct, 2009 @ 11:06
1 min read

Spain: Must do better

IF you thought the English were some of Europe’s most linguistically inept, then think again.
It has emerged that Spain´s grasp of foreign languages really is worse than in the UK.

Almost half of Spain’s adults (46.6 per cent) speak no other language than their own native tongue, according to a new EU survey.

This leaves them sitting just above bottom of the class as the third worst EU country when it comes to speaking a second language.

Only Hungary – where 74.8 per cent cannot speak a foreign language – and Portugal fare worse.

While the UK was found hovering in the lower echelons of the league table, two thirds of the population speak more than one language.

Latvia emerged as the high-flyers with an impressive 97.5 per cent of the country being able to speak at least one foreign language.

The disappointing results have come after the Oxford University Press (OUP) launched a website to overcome Spain’s long-standing problem with Spanglish.

In a bid to highlight the common mistakes it shows well-known Spaniards, such as Jose Maria Aznar and even Franco, speaking in less than perfect

The OUP estimates that only 20 per cent of Spaniards are capable of holding a conversation in a foreign language, against the EU average of 44 per cent.

Hopes are that classic mistakes such as ‘I have 18 years old’ may one day be a mistake made by the minority.

The web address is www.100spanglish.es

Jon Clarke (Publisher & Editor)

Jon Clarke is a Londoner who worked at the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday as an investigative journalist before moving permanently to Spain in 2003 where he helped set up the Olive Press. He is the author of three books; Costa Killer, Dining Secrets of Andalucia and My Search for Madeleine.

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  1. The finding about Spain doesn’t surprise me, given that Spain has been independent and isolated for much of its modern history.. The one about Portugal does. I thought that the latter’s long relationship with England would give it a better English capability. I guess I can’t judge, since I’ve only traveled in the more touristed areas of Portugal.

    All that said, I know how difficult it is to learn another language, especially as an adult. Especially for an American!

  2. why does anyone think that statistically england has more bi or tringual speakers… er…. maybe it is because of the huge diversity of nationalities living there since the 1940´s…?

  3. Well they are certainly trying to resolve this with the next generation. My 6 year old has english classes at school and my 14 year old is doing classes in English, French and Spanish in most subjects.

    Both are at Spanish state schools.

  4. Well said Sophia.

    A surprising number of Spanish people speak at least some English. And yes, ther eare U.K. people who speak some Spanish.
    Being fluent involves a lot more than being able to order a beer, or buy a head of cabbage and a few potatoes at the local market.


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