Today - September 26 - is the European Day of Languages. This annual event was launched in 2001 by the Council of Europe to encourage plurilingualism (the ability to speak two or more different languages), across the continent. This aim is supported by language workshops, activities, conferences and the airing of special television programs, organised across Europe by the council.
This event inspired us to create and host a survey on our blog during August. We wanted to investigate the attitudes of people from the UK towards the learning of foreign languages, in relation to travel within Europe. We wanted to find out how many people had experienced language barriers while travelling to European countries, and whether holidaymakers have become lazy in regards to adopting foreign tongues in the wake of technological advancements.
As promised, you will find the results of our survey in infographic form at the bottom of this post.
We were surprised by a number of discoveries from our survey.
51% of our survey respondents agreed with the (arguably ignorant) sentiment "It is safe to assume most Europeans can speak English". This is obviously not actually the case, since 50.5% of UK holidaymakers admitted they had become frustrated by language barriers while visiting other European countries.
The Luxury Cruise Company Team previously suspected physical language books might have decreased in popularity, in the wake of various dictionary and translator mobile phone applications becoming available. However, only 27% of our respondents said they had ever used such an app while on holiday in Europe; we had expected this figure to be higher. In contrast, 56% said they had made use of physical language books.
The final question in our survey asked, "If you could choose just one phrase/word to learn in the local language of a European country you are visiting, what would it be?" Respondents were asked to pick from a list of eight different options. We were unsurprised to find "Thank You" ranked first from our list with 69% (we English are notoriously polite!) but we were amused to see "beer" rank second with 12%, ahead of also gracious "Please" (9%).
The stereotypical, well-mannered nature of the British population is also evident through another of our surveys stats. 82% of our respondents said they consider it rude for tourists to make no attempt to speak local languages while on European holidays.
The Luxury Cruise Company would like to thank everyone who took the time to answer our survey.