Want to go overseas but can't speak the language?

Recent government research published in the UK showed that two thirds of teenagers intend to work abroad in Europe or Asia when they leave school even though most of them speak no foreign language.

This from Times Online:

More than half (58 per cent) of 11-18 year olds say they have no foreign language skills whatsoever, yet 66 per cent are planning to work for up to two years in Italy, Spain, France or China.

The research is further evidence that most young people assume they can get by in a foreign country by speaking English, and comes just weeks after official GCSE data showed the number of children taking formal exams in foreign languages has fallen yet again.

I think the figures would be similar in New Zealand. Practically ev

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ery New Zealand kid wants to do the overseas experience (OE).  My colleague Peter wrote an excellent article in May 08 about why learning a little bit of language is better than nothing.

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Even Air New Zealand is now giving preference to people who can speak other languages. This from their flight attendant recruitment website:

Special attention is given to the cultural and language needs especially relating to the Airline's key markets such as Asia, Japan and Europe. A second language is preferred and priority will be given to applicants who are fluent in Japanese, Cantonese, Mandarin, German, French and the languages of the South Pacific.

I bet you didn't know that…

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About The Author

Kenneth is Director of Euroasia. He is passionate about languages and cultures.