I'm amazed to see how other countries (and european countries) are dealing with languages). I'm back from ski holidays where most of the people were swedish (in the resort and in my group). It was the first time I met and talked with so many swedish people (not in swedish : “Jag mötte en grupp svenskar i Frankrike” <- only swedish words I know ;).
So, they were *all* (~100) speaking very good english, and most of them were speaking german too.
And the dialog was difficult with french people, because most of us weren't speaking good english.
The reason for that ? From my understanding and investigation, it appears that in Sweden :
- English courses are mandatory for young swedish students
- A lot of TV shows and movies are in english : not dubbed (I'm not even sure all are subbed)
- They travel a lot
- They take it easy
Several time I asked the questions : “Why are you learning other languages”, “why are you so good at it ?”
Universally they replied“You know, swedish is a very small language, you cannot expect people in the world to speak it - you can go nowhere with swedish”
When I went to Tel Aviv, it noticed the same (lot of English at tv, English is something important to learn).
IMHO, we - french people - should learn humility too. French is a small language, something we have to protect and talk *in addition* to other languages. I was amazed by Mr. Chirac reaction (basically, he left a meeting because it was in english and not in french), and by french comments on Loic's blog
I wish I were able to speak better english (and without by terrible accent)! I want more not-dubbed movies and shows. Being able to communicate and exchange with a lot of different cultures is a wonderful experience!