British Holidaymakers Ignorant to Foreign Language

Posted by Sue Anderson, 5th Jul 2012

Our latest poll has revealed that the average British holidaymaker knew how to say '3' words or phrases in the foreign language of the last country they visited on holiday, with 'hello', 'thank you' and 'please' being the most commonly-known words.

The average British holidaymaker is seemingly rather ignorant when it comes to foreign languages, particularly those of the countries they visit on holiday.

We carried out the study as part of ongoing research into holiday habits of Britons. 1,627 UK adults were polled in the study and were asked questions about the last holiday abroad they had been on and their understanding of the local language there. All respondents had been on holiday on the past 12 months.

Just 8% of respondents said they spoke another language fluently

When asked, 'Do you speak another language fluently?' just 8% of the respondents said 'yes'. They were then asked about their understanding of words from the language of the last country they visited on holiday.

It would seem that a lot of you favour a Spanish holiday, as the majority of the respondents had spent their last overseas holiday in 'Spain'. When asked 'Approximately how many words and/or phrases would you confidently say you knew from the language of the last holiday destination you visited abroad?' the average answer stated by those polled was '3'.

'Hello' was the most commonly known word

All respondents were then asked which words they knew how to say on their last holiday in the foreign language of the country they were in.

The study revealed that the most commonly known words were as follows:

Hello 47%

Thank you 31%

Please 22%

Yes/No 19%

Beer 13%

When asked, 'Do you expect people in foreign countries living around popular holiday resorts to speak and understand English?' 79% of those polled said 'yes'.

Although English is a widely spoken language, it doesn't mean you shouldn't make the effort when visiting a foreign country. It's easy to teach yourself a few odd words and it can really help relations with locals, so why not have a go before your next holiday?
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