28 Feb, 2014 @ 17:38
1 min read

Ex-PM fights back after criticism of his language skills


A FORMER Spanish Prime Minister has hit back at those who criticised his lack of English.

The ex-Socialist leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero slammed the emphasis placed on leaders’ linguistic skills, which would exclude working class people from positions of power.

It comes after he was continually mocked during his leadership for his inability to speak English, a problem also experienced by current PM Mariano Rajoy.

He was frequently photographed alone at conferences while the other leaders debated openly.

“In Spain there are a lot of people who don’t speak English,” insisted Mr Zapatero, adding that to exclude these people from positions of responsibility would be ‘reactionary’.

Although insisting earlier on TV show ‘Viajando con Chester’ that learning a language was ‘essential’, he pointed out that interpreters are always available for important diplomatic meetings.

But Mr Zapatero, who didn’t study English in school, is far from the only world leader to have limited linguistic ability.

Rajoy has openly confessed to struggling with English, despite three hours a week of classes courtesy of the taxpayer.

“Several generations of politicians have been burdened by Spain’s lack of interest in language education in the past,” said Mr Rajoy.

“I’m also a product of my times.”

Other world leaders do little to improve the situation. Both British Prime Minister David Cameron and former French leader Nicholas Sarkozy can only communicate in their native tongues.

American leaders far better with Barack Obama learning Spanish in 2008 and is now able to deliver speeches to potential Latino voters.

However the American people won’t necessarily appreciate the effort, as Mitt Romney was bizarrely ridiculed throughout the 2012 primary for his ability to speak French.

Apparently George Bush was once advised not to mention he spoke Spanish, as it might be seen as ‘un American’ at the polls.

Imogen Calderwood

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  1. Love it or hate it, English is the international language and the language of business. The Chinese are learning English in droves and London is full of language students, many of them Spanish. These days, if do don’t speak English you will be at a disadvantage because it is also the second language of most countries around the world.

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