Great Britain Not Serious About Spanish

Jordi   Wednesday, September 01, 2004, 18:48 GMT
Although hundreds of thousands of Brits are migrating to Spain in the past few years, most of them expecting to make of the English language a living even if they don't have the qualifications to do so, they all arrive here with extremely poor command of Spanish, Catalan, Galician or Basque (depending on where they want to settle). The fact is that, most of them, and after many years, have hardly improved at all and are quite difficult to understand.
Furthermore, millions of them come on holidays without knowing a single word of Spanish and are flabbergasted when the poor locals, not the ones in the trade, don't speak correct English.
Could you please tell me what's wrong with the UK Education system? If they are to send us their English Armada Invencible, they could at least make an effort to communicate with the natives.
Ed   Wednesday, September 01, 2004, 20:34 GMT
They're jerks (no offense)
Damian   Wednesday, September 01, 2004, 21:03 GMT

I'm not suggesting that you do so, but if you look back at some of my earlier postings in this forum you will see that I have commented on this very same issue. Not so long ago I listened to a program on the BBC all about British expats living in Spain. We also discussed the same issue in a forum at unversity once last winter.

Apparently British people having been retiring to places like Spain (and elsewhere in Southern Europe) in great numbers for some time now. They form colonies there, all of them living together, all speaking English and insisting that they follow the same cultural pursuits as they did back in the UK. The overwhelming majority of them have absolutely no intention of adapting to the lifestyles of their host country, which of course means no effort is made to learn the language....not even the simplest phrases, or casual greetings in a great many cases.

They are perfectly content to live in their little ghettoes all over Spain, regarding their new environment as nothing more than Blackpool or Brighton or wherever..... only with sun. They have their English pensions and stuff transferred and still retain all their social benefits, or whatever they are called, exactly as if they were still living in the UK. They have had stores established all selling English stuff so that they continue to live on English food and frequent English style pubs selling English beer. In other's exactly as if they had only moved down to Devon or Cornwall but with the added benefits of a much better climate and, apparently, a lower cost of living. In other words, all the advantages. They are all together, are they not, all speaking why the **** (according to them) should they bother to learn Spanish? As I say, they have no desire to do so. Their way of thinking is that the locals should learn English, so that any linguistic problems can be sorted out. Jordi, I have said this very thing in other postings, I promise you. Is that not sad? Does arrogance know no bounds?

I'm sorry to speak of my own countrymen in this way, but I try to speak the truth and say things as I understand them. That is how they are, it seems.

Even within the UK itself, English people retire to predominantly Welsh speaking parts of Wales, and live there for years, until they pop their clogs or whatever, without ever learning a single word of Welsh in many cases. I can assure you, that causes a great deal of resentment among the bilingual Welsh. Not only that, these Anglo Saxon "incomers" take over muich of the local institutions, forcing the locals to revert to English to suit the English "invaders" and thus further diluting Welsh culture. It's exactly the same as the Spanish situation.

Maybe I should say British rather than English, as it's probably true that the Scots and Welsh who move to Spain and elsewhere are no better than the English in this respect. I'd like to think they make more of an effort anyway. All I have to go on is what I have heard and read about on this whole expat situation.
It happens in Scotland as well, but there language is not an issue as it is in parts of Wales. The principle is the same though.

I don't think it has much to do with the UK educational system, Jordi. More to do with the English psyche.

Of course, the British are not the only ones migrating to sunny, warmer climes......I know that the Dutch, the Germans and Scandinavians do so as well. How well do they integrate into their host societies, do you know, Jordi? It would be interesting to know.
Damian   Wednesday, September 01, 2004, 21:07 GMT
<<It happens in Scotland as well, but there language is not an issue as it is in parts of Wales. The principle is the same though>>

This paragraph should have followed on from: <<the same as the Spanish situation>> in the 5th para. sorry. My poor proof reading.
Damian   Wednesday, September 01, 2004, 21:25 GMT
<<They're jerks (no offense)>>


From your spelling I reckon you are American making that terse comment. Expand a bit would an American expat situation fare in a smiliar situation, if you can imagine it. I mean, would the average English speaking American fully integrate into Spanish society and go all out to communicate with the locals in their native language?

My guess is that it would never happen anyway .... the average American would have no idea where on earth Spain is!
Jordi   Wednesday, September 01, 2004, 21:50 GMT
Thanks Damian for that interesting post. I'll just add a few things. First, British expats are 90% English at least. Very few Irish, Scots or Welsh buy a home in Spain although they do come for their holidays. The reason is the Celts love their country and wish to die there, a feeling we Catalans share. If they don't it's because they have had to find refuge, in the past, in the US, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. From whom? Do you want to guess or should I remind you?
Northern Europeans usually learn quite good Spanish and many even learn Catalan. The Dutch are the best and Scandinavians can be very good. People from small civilised countries who cherish their national tongues understand the rest of the world. The Germans must have some kind of genetic link with the English. Perhaps its their size and they are convinced that their pronunciation can be acquired by Roman throats. They also expect the local farmer to speak German although I must say tere are a few more Germans who speak Spanish than English. The English, most of them, seem to be downright hopeless as far as languages go.
The thing about British Tour Operators is that they even hire English Tourist Guides who don't speak much Spanish (enough to get around but not enough to know what they are speaking about).
I've read somewhere that the British authorities have said that the love of the Mediterranean is now a major threat for the future of GB. Hundreds of thousands of Englishmen would sell their soul to the devil
--and their small cottage in Middlesex-- to own a house in Spain. One last thing, Spain isn't as cheap as it used to be and getting more expensive.
Damian   Wednesday, September 01, 2004, 22:18 GMT
<<Do you want to guess or should I remind you? >>

Jordi....I need no reminding :-)

Good night from Dun Eidan!
Juan   Wednesday, September 01, 2004, 22:36 GMT
Jordi sez:
<<Spain isn't as cheap as it used to be and getting more expensive.>>

Demand causes price increases. :-)
Ed   Thursday, September 02, 2004, 02:06 GMT

I didn't mean that British people are jerks in general. What i meant was that a person living in a country without learning one word of the language of that country is a thickhead. I'm not sure whether Americans are exactly like that, but from what I've seen, they tend to communicate with the people when they go to a foreign country and try to speak that language. And I say "they" because I'm actually from Bulgaria, so it's not like I'm the perfect definition of an American :-)
Ed   Thursday, September 02, 2004, 02:08 GMT
And one more thing - Americans might be very ignorant when it comes to geography but they know most of the major countries, and they know that Spain is in Europe.
Jordi   Thursday, September 02, 2004, 07:07 GMT
Dear Ed,
You don't have to do it but I do. Try and say "I'm Spanish" in the US. The answer, more often than not is: "You don't look Spanish, you've got a British accent and you surname doesn't even sound Spanish, therefore, you're kidding us."
Actually, my accent is mostly Australian although my parents moved back to Spain many years ago. What on Earth do Spaniards look like? How many in the US know? When I tell them where I'm from they are shocked: "Oh! Spain, Europe!" Is there any other Spain in the world? may I ask. Could you please tell me in which Central or South American or Carribean country or island there's another Spain? Would you imagine any European saying "Oh, England, North America!" to somebody from Alabama? Actually, try and check how many of them know where on Earth is Bulgaria on the map... At least, most of them know Spain is somewhere in the tropics' jungle... ;-)
Damian   Thursday, September 02, 2004, 07:17 GMT
<<Is there any other Spain in the world>>

Maybe there are several little hick towns called Spain scattered across rural USA, Jordi. Spain, Tennessee maybe? Or Spain, Oklahoma? There is a place called Paris, Texas, for instance...I think the whole place would fit into Luxembourg Gardens :-)
Damian   Thursday, September 02, 2004, 07:23 GMT

I remember now that you come from Bulgaria...sorry I forgot. It's just that you used the US spelling "offense". Talking about lack of geographical knowledge in the US, friends of my mother were in Mississippi, USA and were askd where they came from. They replied "Scotland", and the guy said: "Hey, is that near England?"
Random Chappie   Thursday, September 02, 2004, 08:31 GMT
But still, your mother's friends weren't wrong.
In truth, near England Scotland is.
nic   Thursday, September 02, 2004, 10:25 GMT
And Ireland is just the island on the left!