There is a funny joke in Europe and it goes…
“If you call someone who knows two languages “bilingual” and someone who knows three languages “trilingual,” what do you call someone who knows only one language? —- An American.”
Yesterday, I was having a discussion about someone I know that lives in Central American part of the year and here the other part.
He was saying how when he speaks Spanish to customers who are Latino or Hispanic they seem to want to do more business.
This is beginning to make it economically beneficial to learn Spanish as an American. Most of our parents did not know more than one language unless they have heritage from somewhere that needs it.
Europeans think we are ignorant for not knowing more than one language, but if you think about it, it hasn’t been beneficial to know more than one language.
We are mostly isolated, unlike Europe and we have invented much of the technology that has been vital to our economy.
When you visit places in Europe they all speak English because their parents and school systems realize that one day they might want to study in one of our non-socialist colleges or get a job in our booming economy.
Our because they have to deal with tourist. A true sign of wealth is when you are so wealthy you can travel the world and people have to adapt to you to be more efficient.
As the world is getting smaller we will incorporate more languages in our schools, but my generation got caught in the transition and I hope people realize that it’s pretty hard to learn a language later in life.
In conclusion, it has been rational for Europeans to learn English and other languages. In the U.S., it was rational not to learn other languages but that is changing.