Wednesday, August 24, 2016


A recent survey conducted by the language app Babbel on 3,000 Americans and Britons together made some interesting discoveries. First, that their language learning capabilities are lacking compared to the rest of the world; second, that many of them have dreamt of getting together with a foreigner who speaks another language; therefore, these English speakers find a surprising attractiveness in being bilingual.

Would you believe that learning and being able to speak another language besides your native tongue can give you some sexy points and life advantages? CNN has the statistics crunched by Babbel in its survey. Right off the bat, of the 3,000 survey respondents 71% of the Americans among them and 61% British concur on the added attractiveness appeal of bilingualism.

That’s not all. Half of them have imagined getting into a relationship with someone from another country, hence the need to be bilingual. In that case, nine out of every 10 respondents say that they’re ready and willing to learn another language in the name of love.

But before you think it’s all about love and foreign romances, the perks of knowing two or more languages extends to the workplace too. It’s no coincidence then that one in eight of the Babbel respondents has deliberately lied on their résumés about their knowledge of foreign languages.

Countries with English as their native language like the United States and the United Kingdom have their people growing up in a monolingual environment where the need to learn a foreign tongue was entirely optional, as the usual mindset was that people from other countries just need to learn English, the “international language” to communicate with them. But in other countries, they start off with their own language and begin learning another, most likely English, as early as kindergarten or primary school. In essence, these foreigners have gotten a leg up on western English-speakers with their language skills. In 2001 a survey by the research consulting firm Gallup bared the uncomfortable truth that only around one-fourth of all Americans can confidently speak a foreign language fluently while conversing. On the other side of the Atlantic, a 2014 study by Eubarometer discovered that three-fifths of the combined UK and Ireland population know English and no other language.

For those who do love to learn a new tongue to speak with, Babbel’s survey uncovered some surprises too. Americans and Britons, whose English was rooted in Germanic dialect of old, were less inclined to learn German or Dutch which come from the same historical group. Rather, they go for the “Romantic” tongues that sprang from Latin, like Spanish or the “king of sexy languages”, French.

And there’s a big health boon to being bilingual too, says Canadian neuroscientist Ellen Bialystok back in 2011. Knowledge of many languages, she says, can exercise the brain and prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in later life. You should need no encouragement now.

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