I only speak English, and that embarrasses me. More so given my EMEA role at Oracle. The reason I find it so embarrassing is due to the number of people that speak English. German, French, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, Arabic they all know English. In Amsterdam, they know the language better than me.
It seems like it’s everyone too. From people in shops, cafes and hotels everyone speaks English, and even if I try to speak the language I get a little laugh, and then the native speaker saves me from my embarrassment and starts talking to me in English. Or it ends in awkwardness like the time I tried to order "2 glaces à la vanille" from room service and they brought me two glasses.
The reason I haven’t learnt a Language is that foreign languages at school in the UK are a joke. I studied French for four years at senior school, and the only thing I recall is how to build incredible paper planes and the phrase "où est la discothèque" and "J’aime jouer au foot" and I don’t even like football.
The only time not speaking a language was even remotely a problem was when an Uber driver in Munich, who didn’t speak English, drove off with my suitcase in his boot (trunk if you’re American, see I have a command of that language). I had to call him via Ubers "I’ve lost something system" I had to explain my suitcase was in his boot, and sadly I knew none of those words in German. Eventually, he figured out I had forgotten something and drove back, and charged me 5 euros for the privilege.
It’s terrific that so many people learn English. I have guilt that they have had to spend so long learning English and that British people never have the urgency to learn another language.
In software If I only wrote in one computer language, I’d be out of a job way before now. Imagine running around the world and having the audacity to insist that everyone only coded in VBA since that was the first language I learnt.
I admire British people that do learn a foreign language. I’ve tried quite a lot of CDs and Audiobooks, but I think if I am ever going to succeed, I’m going to have to hire a tutor.
Au revoir, Martin