As an Albanian, I come from a small country whose language, though very unique, is not spoken anywhere else. So for an Albanian it is very logical and advantageous to learn other languages so as to communicate freely and easily with other people in a language we both understand. Moreover, personally I have realized that knowing another language, or two, helps you expand your horizon of understanding and appreciation for other cultures and peoples.
Though I do not much speak Spanish, knowing Italian has helped me immensely to understand the gist of what people are saying. This has proved very helpful for getting around or getting things done while here in Spain (first in Madrid and now in Granada for Campus Party Milenio).
On the flip side, I have come to realize the sad fact that most Spaniards I’ve met do not know much English or any other language for that matter. So the challenge of communicating and being understood has made me want to over use those few words that I know in Spanish.
Moreover, a greater realization for me has been the fact that most former imperial nations (the English, the French, the Spaniards, etc.,) tend not to see the benefit of learning another language as they assume or have found out that most anywhere else they may travel in the world there are enough people speaking their own language!
Breakfast with three Spaniards
While in Spain at Campus Party, I set down for breakfast at a table with three other Spaniards, one of whom was into modeling robotics, and the other two were involved in the social media and creativity aspects of the web (same as me). Being an extrovert in these situations, I introduced myself in English, but quickly realized that I was not being fully understood. Italian was a bit more successful but nevertheless a challenge for them. So rugged Spanish it was!
As our chopped up conversation went on I asked the innocent question of why most of them did not speak much English or any other language. Promptly the response came that there were enough speaking Spanish people in other countries that they did not find it necessary to learn another language proficiently. They did admit that their English language proficiency was necessary for watching movies, but not much else.
First off, learning another language in most cases is utilitarian. You learn it because you want or need to use it otherwise lack of will/desire make learning another language just a chore. Learning Spanish has never been a priority for me but if I lived in Spain it would be of great use. But most people I find are not interested to expand their language(s) as much as their knowledge in specific areas of interest which help them become experts and then develop or use that as their means of communication.
At this event, though I find most people don’t speak each other’s language, they have the willingness to deepen their knowledge and understanding of ideas/concepts/technologies that will impact and change the world in the future.
New technological inventions are creating new ways to communicate and to live.