Monolingualism is a dying trait.

 

Learning a foreign language is a win-win for everyone. In places like the U.S.A or the UK, there are very few things that have bi-partisan support and it is time that one more was added.

 

The necessity for people (children and adults) to learn at least one foreign language and be able to speak it at a conversational level.

 

As the world continues to get more accessible, the ability and desire to travel has increased immeasurably. In recent years Brazilians have discovered Florida, the Chinese have discovered everywhere and even Americans are becoming a nation of passport holders.

At the turn of the century only about 10% of Americans had a passport. Fast forward to now and that number is close to 50%. Owning a passport, however, does not mean that it is used on a regular basis. In 2016 only about 8% of Americans travelled overseas with almost 40% of them visiting Mexico.

Uncertainty about destination safety and lack of language skills are the two primary reasons that Americans are still reluctant to travel overseas.

 

Traveler numbers increased to around 10% in 2018

  • 36.9 million were to Mexico…
  • 14.3 million were to Canada
  • 17.7 million were to Europe

You can get all of the figures here ….   https://travel.trade.gov/tinews/archive/tinews2019/20190402.asp

 

So why does this matter?

Most places around the world speak English.

 

Actually, they don’t! Approximately 75% of the world’s population does not speak English.

 

Global business however, does use English as the primary language in many parts of the world, but …. and it’s a big but … more places don’t. This is especially true where trade is done between local and bordering countries.

Let’s look at the Americas, south of California.

Every country in Latin and South America has Spanish as their primary language with the exception of Brazil. If you or your employees don’t speak Spanish, then your business might not fulfil its potential.

Globalising your business without Spanish speakers has potentially lost you close to 10% of the worlds population. 460 million of them! Not having Chinese speakers can lose you a further 20% of the world, take away Hindi and Arabic and you lose another 6% each. That is heading towards half of the ENTIRE population of the world.

Bilingual speakers in the U.S are predominantly descendants of immigrant families. 11.6 million Spanish speakers have Spanish as a second language and 41 million have Spanish as their first language. That is 13% of the U.S population.

For those of you who have traveled overseas and needed assistance.

You probably spoke a louder than you should have done, on the premise that the louder you were the more the locals would understand you. It doesn’t work that way. Finally you met a friendly face who spoke a few words of English and a huge sigh of relief descended upon you. The realisation that someone could help you out of whatever situation you were in.

Now just imagine IF the shoe were on the other foot. You are in your hometown and a visitor is struggling to be understood. They are getting hot and bothered, anxious and frustrated. What if you could step in and translate for them? It doesn’t mean that you are going to turn into best buddies, or they will end up living with you., marrying one of your kids and turning you into the grandparent of a mixed-race child.

It simply is a nice, courteous thing to do, if you are able. Even if you cannot speak their language, but you know someone who does, you can always make a phone call. Remember when you were the foreigner traveling overseas? Be nice.