In a manner of speaking
Brits have a reputation for not speaking foreign languages and the EU commission survey from 2005 seems to confirm this!
I have always enjoyed trying to converse in the language of the country I am in to some degree: I always try to show an interest in the language of the country asking people how to say words and using those I have learnt when I can. And I have always found that people respond well when you try (however bad you sound!).
62% of people surveyed can’t speak any other language apart from English. 38% of Britons speak at least one foreign language, 18% speak two and only 6% of the population speak three or more.
The European Union average showed that 56% speak at least one foreign language, 28% speak at least two and 11% speak three or more.
The survey confirmed that English was the most widely-spoken foreign language. 51% of EU citizens can have a conversation in English.
I have read a lot of Camino forums looking for advice and I was amazed at the attitude of “Don’t bother to learn Spanish, they all speak English!” Maybe they do ALL speak English but I wonder what message that gives out to those you meet along the way, the shopkeepers, the bar owners, the people who work in the Albergues?
The guide books that I have read do suggest that you try to learn at least a little Spanish as this will enhance your trip so I signed up for lessons and I am busy doing my homework every day now, trying to cram in as much as I can before I go, listening to Spanish in the car and trying to get my ‘ear’ in. I won’t be a great example of someone who can converse with the locals but I will try my best!
What I find difficult, and I know I am not alone, is that I get mixed up with the little bit of French, German and Italian I know. When I trying to tell my Spanish teacher something, I seem to be able to grasp at the school-girl French/German that have become fixed in my mind …..with a little bit of Italian pronunciation in there for good measure!
If you are interested in trying to fit in some phrases of Spanish before your trip, check out the following link:
And as always, buen Camino!