The World Cup, holidayhomes and budgetairlines are feeding an unexpectedpassion for learninglanguages. Are you stillshouting in English at bemusedpeople in othercountries? Thatused to be the stereotype
of the English-speakerabroad. But is that all changing? Thisheatwavesummerseems to be bringing a boom in
languagelearning. Languagecourses are reporting a surge in demand, newspapershavebeengivingawaylanguage-teaching CDs and languagelearning is the theme of BBC2's latestreality TV show, Excuse My French.
So what's encouraged us out of our shells? Are languagesreallyreaching the partsthattheycouldn't
previouslyreach? Therecould be something of a World Cup factorhere - with the footballfest in Germanymaking a verypositiveimpression on the hundreds of thousands of Englandfans who wentover. Footballfansmight not be considerednaturalterritory for languagelessons. But before the competition, Englandfootballfanswereoffered a crashcourse in learning a few Germanphrases - and thisreallydoesseem to havebeen an
ice-breaker. "It made a hugedifference - particularlywhenfans saw the impact on ordinarypeople in Germany of
beingable to say hello or goodevening in theirlanguage," saysMarkPerryman, organizer of the Englandfanssupporters' club in London, who tookpart in theselessons. "It helped to breakdownbarriers and it brokedown the
stereotypesaboutEnglandfans. There's an assumptionthat the English, let alonefootballfans, wouldneverlearn
a language." Travellingfanswerealsoimpressed by how well so manyGermanscouldspeakEnglish, he says.
And it evencreatedsomemulti-lingualbantering. The Germansweresinging "football's cominghome" in English
and the Englandfanslearned how to sing it back in German, said Mr. Perryman. The languagelessons for fanswere set up by the GoetheInstitute, (the Germanequivalent of the BritishCouncil) - and institutespokesman,
OliverBenjamin, saysthatthissummer's Germancourses are fullybooked. "There's definitelybeen an increase in
interest in learningmoreabout the language and culture - and it's muchmore of a youngeraudience," he says.
"The World Cup has made our work a hell of a lot easier," says Mr. Benjamin. And he says the longstandingresistance to learninglanguages is beingdiminished. There had been an "islandmentality and a certainarrogancethatEnglish is the worldlanguage". But this is changing, he says, not leastbecause the UK is part of a globalized,
multilingualworld. In London, only 57% of the populationspeaksEnglish as a firstlanguage, he says. It's no
longerunusual for people to movebetweenlanguages.
It makes a change to hearoptimisticnewsaboutmodernlanguagelearning. Universitylanguagedepartmentshavebeenclosingbecause of a lack of students - and this in turnreflects how few pupils are takinglanguages at A-level. And therehavebeenrepeatedwarningsfromindustryabout the economiccost of our
nationaldeficit in languageskills. But ratherthan an academic or businessinterest, anotherdriver for the currentinterest in learninglanguages is the unprecedentedappetite for travel. Thisweekend, at the start of the summerholidays, morethan two millionpeopleflew out from UK airports. And it's no longerjustpackageholidays and
touristresorts - people are exploringmoreindependently and furtherafield. It might not makeheadlines, but this
is a significantsocialchange, withmorepeoplethanevergetting a taste of otherplaces, cultures and languages.
"Withbudgetairlines and cheapertravel, people are mixingmore, seeing the waysotherpeople do things. There
are loads of lads I knowfromplaceslikeSunderland who fetch up in all kinds of places in a way theyneverwouldhavedonebefore," saysPeterDaykin, a spokesman for the FootballSupporters' Federation (FSF). "People are
now goingabroad for a weekend to placeslike the CzechRepublic, whichoncewouldhavebeenunheard of," he
says. Mr. Daykin was anothervisitor to the World Cup who leftwith a sensethat the journeythroughGermany
had been a very "positiveexperience" for fans - a long way from the negativestereotypes of the English as
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Peoplearen't onlytravellingabroad. They're now takingtheirpropertymaniawiththem. According to the
Office for NationalStatistics, there are now almost 257,000 overseasholidayhomesowned by people in the UK.
And the InstitutFrancais, whichpromotesFrenchlanguage and culture, saysthatsecond-homers are part of the
growingdemand for languagelessons. FrancisHetroy, director of languages at the institute, saysthatdemand for
Frenchcourses has risen by about 15% to 20% lastyear, whentherewereabout 7,000 students. And thisincludesverypopularlanguagecoursesoffered in how to buy a property in France, he says.
【題組】67. Whatdoesbemusedmean in the firstparagraph?
(A) stupid (B) confused (C) misguided (D) disordered