The British have always been adventurous, yet never prepared to meet other cultures halfway. In today’s globalised world the spread of English as the ‘killer language’ has re-enforced this national trait and in threatening to render most of the native population completely uncompetitive versus non-natives who have at least one extra language as well as their professional skills.
Worse, the phasing out of compulsory language education in schools in Britain, especially Latin, has also lead to a complete and systemic lack of knowledge of grammar and thus a solid base to learn languages if the need does arise. Grammar is not taught in schools even in English, which is learned by rote; liberalisation has compounded the problem by making it acceptable to make grammatical errors. This means that in many cases, non-native learners, who still learn the well established standards of grammar and vocabulary, have a better level of knowledge of English than natives!
I am increasingly worried about this trend. The waking giant, China, is beginning to exercise its influence in the world, with its own form of colonialism to satisfy its demand for natural resources – for example in the Sudan, where Chinese, not English is now compulsory in schools. When the world emerges from recession, there is the real possibility that Chinese catches up and eventually overtakes English as the lingua franca of the world.
Mono-lingual Brits – watch out!