There is an old joke that gets passed around in Europe that goes like this:
If you speak three languages, you are trilingual.
If you speak two languages, you are Bi-lingual.
If you speak one language, you are American.
Why is it that the country that boasts the most ethnically and linguistically diverse population in the world so linguistically backward? The only people who really speak more than one language over here are immigrants and their children. By the third generation most of them are as linguistically bereft as the rest of us. Hell, we don’t even bother to speak our OWN language correctly! In Germany all students are expected to learn two languages in addition to Deutch (that’s the German word for their language.) It is a phenomenally rare thing to find a public elementary school that offers a second language in the U.S. Why? It is in those years before they become a teen that they are most capable of picking up a second or third language. By the time they hit high school, forget about it. They’ll do the minimum to get a passing grade then never use it again.
I took German in high school, and I had better than average pronunciation. This came in handy when I joined the army and was shipped off to Germany. Of course I was lost when I was eventually stationed in Southern Belgium where everybody spoke French, but that’s another story (or rant.)
Currently, our education system just plain sucks! Here we are, the richest most powerful country IN THE WORLD, and we can’t be bothered to even learn a second language. It’s no wonder the rest of the world community looks down on us like we were a bunch of barbarians.
This has been a Wolf Rant.