https://www.duolingo.com/AgaragazaRosee

Countries with many official languages and the perception of languages

I live in Finland. We've 2 official languages: Finnish and Swedish. +95% of Finns native language is Finnish. Most of them doesn't know Swedish although everybody has to study it at least 4,5 years (from 6th grade | and the reason goes to history). Everybody also start studying English from 3rd grade (the government is changing it to 1st grade btw).

So basically Finns are all trilingual, in reality everybody under 40 are at least bilingual (ofc there's some exceptions etc...). Despite that, if you are trilingual ( Finnish, Swedish and English), nobody considers it as a wow thing. Even when you apply for job etc knowing those 3 languages are nothing. If you know German, French or Spanish, it's cool but even that isn't like WOW thing - its just like great/good for you. If you speak Russian, it's awesome but again not that fancy.

That may sound most of you like WTF but it's actually pretty simple to understand if you know the Finnish school system. For example with this http://www.toptenz.net/10-reasons-finland-worlds-best-school-system.php you can understand the basics of Finnish school system and how it works. In addition to that, we have a lot of options and freedom to choose to study what we like. And with languages it goes like this: compulsory: A1 language start either 1st or 3rd grade , B1 in 6th grade. Optional languages:A2 on 4th or 5th grade, B2 in 8th grade and B3 in hich school (any grande, you choose).

So knowing languages in Finland just are not that WOW like in USA because everybody can choose to study as many languages as you like - and it's free!! (Obviously if you speak fluently 6 languages with something exotic like Arabic or Chinese, it's different). But this has a downside - because it is so easily available to anyone, not many chooses additional languages nor are interested to learn other than English. You also need to study either a lot of languages or something hard and exotic to actually impress anyone.

How it is in your country? :))

P.s to those who wants to know which languages I studied in school: from 3rd to 12th grade English, from 7th to 12th grade Swedish, from 8th to 12th Grade German and French , Russian intensive from 10-12th, Spanish and Japanese intensive 11-12th grade. (In high school the studying is much more intensive than in comprehensive school where you learn the language with plays and games and movies etc. So during our high school time you get the same fluency (C1 if you actually study and someones even C2 with dedication) than you get in 9-11 years with A1 language (with that you just have wider vocabulary). So I studied 8 languages (I wanted to study also Latin and ancient Greek but only few besides me wanted to study those so those courses never came to be :/ ) and with all of those I was atleast B1, with some C1 (after the school ended I've not used them so I barely remember anything but lately I got my passion for languages back so now I'm relearning those. Oh and my schools were an average schools, no special schools with bilingual programs nor language programs.

November 5, 2017

40 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/annika_a

A small correction from a fellow Finn: English is actually not mandatory. "A foreign language" is. I know people who studied five languages at school, but not English, because they had picked up English anyway (from media, etc.). I was 14 when I started studying English, and it was my fourth language at school.

And I'd love to see some of those trilingual people when hiring people at work... Mostly it's "Finnish, excellent English (in their own words), and basic Spanish and Swedish" or something like that. And these are applicants with university degrees! Meanwhile, we need people who can speak Swedish well, so those few applicants who actually know Swedish have a definite leg up. Knowing Swedish is not just about history, it's about being able to take care of / give customer service to / help / sell to people in their own language.

November 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/AgaragazaRosee

Oh yes! :) But as you can see my post was really long so that's why I decided to write how it usually goes since there is the minority in every country who do things differently and if you live somewhere else than in the biggest cities there's not much besides English what you could choose since you have to have A1. Like in my elementary (eventhough it's one of the biggest cities in Finland) it was the only choice so everybody had to study it. But since I forgot to mention it, I thank you for adding it :)) !

And about Swedish - I hate that ppl don't study it seriously because of the common attitude against for pakkoruotsi (=the mandatory to study Swedish instead of some actually "useful" language). But then again, it's great advantage for ppl like me.

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ppelk

10% of Europeans can 'have a conversation' in at least 3 languages. People in Luxembourg and Netherlands are topping the charts. This Eurobarometer report has lots on interesting detail on language skills & multilingual countries in Europe: http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/archives/ebs/ebs_386_en.pdf

November 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/tiramisues

Thank you! Very interesting statistics!

Sounds like it's at least three in addition to the native language though. While 25% can speak in two plus their mother tongue and 54% can hold a conversation in one additional language.

Interesting that Italians are even less likely than Brits to know a foreign language. That surprises me a bit to be honest, because at least to my knowledge foreign language learning is mandatory in every country of the EU except the UK (before the brexit). It doesn't necessarily make one conversational, but it lays a basis that one can expand...

November 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/AgaragazaRosee

My friend was an exchange student in Italy and she told me that in English lessons they didnt do much speaking. They [italians] could read and most write well in English but couldnt speak it since it wasnt taught much. And TV and movies was dubbed so they didnt even hear English easily.

Meanwhile in Finland, only few children series/movies are dubbed. Everything else is with subtitles and since Finland has relatively small population, most of the TV series and movies are from abroad (at least 94% is from US & UK ).

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/tiramisues

I hate the dubbing. It's the same here in Germany. I get why it's done, but a lot gets lost in translation and there might be a chance to understand the original. At least the industry is that big, that "Synchronsprecher" is a normal job and a lot of actors have a regular dubber, so the voices don't change across movies (it irritates me if it doesn't happen, since a lot of the time I recognize people from their voice, but it also carries a lot of emotion that sometimes can't be produced by someone standing in a sound studio).

But that's a personal pet peeve of mine. To escape that I sometimes actually went to Luxembourg to watch movies. They sometimes even got released earlier, because dubbing takes more time. Sorry, for the rant, at least it's language related. ;)

To bring it back to the original topic. It's not just the Italians, but French and German folks as well (can't be sure for other countries), so it's probably a combination of that and the school system? Most Germans are not fluent in English, but they could at least small talk and show the way, but I don't know if that qualifies at "carrying a conversation". But maybe Germany and the UK have more immigrants, which makes it more likely to know a foreign language than in Italy? Just guessing though...

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/AgaragazaRosee

I would also rant abt dubbing :DD So doesn't they dub in Luxemburg or..?

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/tiramisues

Sometimes they show the dubbed version from France or Germany, but there are also a lot of showings in the original version with subtitles, that are easy enough to ignore if you don't need them.

What's interesting is that the subtitles are often in multiple languages at once. So one line is French and just below it, you got the German or Dutch subtitles.

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/AgaragazaRosee

Ahaa :D

We also have in movie theaters Finnish and Swedish subtitles like in Luxemburg french+dutch/german

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Elin.7-1

I know what you mean about dubbing. When I was small we had a programme called "WhiteHorses". I culdn't work out why the words and lips weren't synch'ed - I lip read even at that age, I now realised - until I mentioned it to my mum and she explained dubbing. I was very young....

I like that Montalbano is subtitled, although sometimes I wish I could have the subtitles in Italian (or Sicilian as that's the main dialect/language used) so that I could better understand what my ears aren't quitre picking up at that speed.

Unlike you, I find it hard to ignore subtitles and find I watch them rather than the action. When I went to see Italian films with my Italian class, I used to hold up my hand to obscure the English translation so my brain would concentrate on the Italian being spoken and work it out rather than be given the translation.

November 8, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Ontalor

That's 3 additional languages, so four in total. I was curious so I looked up the quote.

"Just over half of Europeans (54%) are able to hold a conversation in at least one additional language, a quarter (25%) are able to speak at least two additional languages and one in ten (10%) are conversant in at least three."

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ppelk

Thanks for the correction!

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/AgaragazaRosee

Thank u for the link!! :))

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/skyflakes95

I'm from the United States and I grew up in an area with very little diversity, so knowing more than one language was very unusual. For some people it was a WOW! thing, but some people treated bilinguals/polyglots like it meant they couldn't really speak English, even when they'd demonstrated otherwise.

It's very uncommon for elementary schools (grades kindergarten to 5) in America to offer foreign language classes. My older sister and this one Mexican family were the only kids at my old elementary school who could speak two languages. The Mexican kids were born in the area so they spoke English without an accent, but my sister spent the first 4 years of her life in the Philippines (on a US military base, raised by our Filipina mother and American father, speaking both Tagalog and English), so she had an accent. The kids in her kindergarten class bullied her because of her accent, so my mom went to talk to the teacher about it and was completely blown off. Then my mom went to the principal and brought my dad along, and the teacher tried to play it off like she misunderstood because of the "language barrier" between her and my mom (my mom speaks 4 languages including English, which she's most educated in). The teacher and the principal proposed that my sister should attend both the morning and afternoon kindergarten sessions to help her "learn English," which wasn't the issue at all, as evident by how she was learning to read and write at the same pace as her monolingual peers and she had no trouble speaking, she just had an accent. So my sister just had to endure the bullying and my mom stopped speaking in full Tagalog sentences at home. As a result, my sister eventually lost her accent (and all of the Tagalog she knew), and my brother and I never learned Tagalog.

The middle school (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12) that I attended were in a much more cosmopolitan area. There were kids from different cultures who didn't have the same experiences that my family had, so they could speak their heritage languages and it wasn't seen as a big deal. People actually criticized me and a few other kids for not being able to speak our heritage languages. My middle school and high school were both public, but they offered the IB program, which required students to take either Spanish or French for the entire duration of the program. The kids outside of the program weren't required to take any foreign language, and most of them didn't even have the opportunity until high school. I was in the program and I took Spanish, but foreign language was a low priority class for us (behind English, math, sciences, and history), so everybody in the program only prepared for the IB assessments and didn't take actually learning the languages seriously. So despite having taken 7 consecutive years of a foreign language, most of my old classmates are not proficient in that language several years after graduation.

Now I'm in an area where being bilingual or multilingual isn't unusual because people come from many cultures and a lot of people learn new languages for their careers, but you'll get a WOW! reaction for knowing an exceptional number of languages or for learning a language that's generally viewed as hard to learn for English speakers.

Meanwhile, most of my cousins in the Philippines speak 3 or more languages because they have to know their regional language (Bisaya/Cebuano), and the official languages of the Philippines (Filipino/Tagalog and English) just to get by.

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/KristenDQ

It's somewhat mixed here in the US. We speak English here and sometimes expect others who come to this country to speak English as well, yet nowadays it's actually considered, at least around here, to know multiple languages, even at a basic level. In addition to the flags on my profile, I also know American Sign Language, which is gaining more and more of a presence and people are actually becoming interested in learning it. Although it is not my first language, I would say that I'm at least at an intermediate level with being able to sign in ASL. With French, I'm somewhere between basic and intermediate level. I've been learning French on and off since I was a little girl, yet I can only hold a basic conversation. Everything else is at a beginner level, though with practice, thanks to Duolingo, I may be able to become fluent in those languages if I was around them more often.

November 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3

That, indeed, sounds like a high school program approximately no American has ever undertaken - all the more so in a normal school. Our graduation / college admission requirements alone would prohibit it in general, even for those of us fortunate enough to attend schools where there exists a choice of seven+ non-English languages (which was the case where I grew up and where I live now, but I know is far from universal).

For example, in my high school we had seven class periods a day, so if you took year-long classes (which basically all language classes are), you took seven classes. That's it. And we were encouraged or required to take English, math, science, and social science every year.

Does Finland just not have a required curriculum for high school students?

November 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/AgaragazaRosee

In Finland, after middle school you either choose vocational school (you become like a plumber, hairdresser, chef..) or high school (academic so everybody continues to uni). Our high school is like this: our school year is divided into 5 phases (august to may), and each of the phase you have 1-9 (usually 5-7) courses and it last 5 weeks + exam week. And you decide which courses you study and when (which phase/year).

During high school you need to compleate atleast 75 courses, 45 of them are mandatory. You have to study like 1 course of philosophy, 4 courses of history, depenging which level math you choose you even have to go at least 6 or 9 courses etc........but like if you really want to go indepth of advansed math, you can take +20 courses. There's atleast 18 diff subjects what you have to study (because in Finland they want to make us the most sophisticated we can be) and which and how many courses is mandatory. After the 45 mandatory courses you can choose whatever subjects you like, but you need to have atleast 75 courses. And which optional courses you choose affect which final exams you can take.

Mandatory final exams are Finnish, math or swedish, A1 language and something like biology ,history, geo, social studies, health knowledge etc but it can not be a language. If you want to do more than 4 mandatory final exams, you can do as many as you want but if you want to take extras, you need to have studied like history atleast 4+3 courses. The more the better ofc.

When you apply to uni, your scores come from the final exams subjects you have done. But we also have entrance exams and usually everybody has to do those. And unis chooses the new students in 3 ways: only entrance exam, entr. exam + matriculation examination (the final exams) or just matriculation examination.

November 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/AgaragazaRosee

Like I mostly chose (after the mandatory ones) languages, law (cuz I wanted to become a lawyer), arts, philosophy, dance, gym, creative writing... and now Im studying engineering at uni :DD so basically it doesnt matter what you study.

November 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/tiramisues

I get that feeling as well. I'm from Germany and we have to learn 2 foreign languages at school at least, we can do more if we want to. I only had French (from 3rd grade to 13th) and English (7th to 13th). That's nothing special here. And although most are only fluent in German (since we also dub all movies here) a lot are also fluent in English and even if there are more languages it's no big deal (but I have to admit, I can't speak French fluently I do understand everything though). My dad can speak 4 languages fluently and it isn't a big deal.

For a couple of years I lived close to the border to Luxembourg, and there were a few students from there at my university, most of lot of people I met from there can speak 3 to 4 languages fluently (Luxembourgish, French, German and English). Again no big deal. Even if they know more than that. Same with a Belgian friend of mine.

November 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/BaroldThe1

I grew up speaking English in Quebec. We all took French from about grade 3 until graduation. One needed to pass a matriculation test in both written and oral French in order to graduate. (It actually was pretty basic lol) To the best of my knowledge very little in the way of other languages was offered anywhere in Canada in the 1960's. I now live in Manitoba where we have a much more diverse population than Quebec. Many schools offer a second language such as French, German, Polish, Ukrainian and recently there has been a big increase in what we call "native" languages. These are the languages that the various tribes of aboriginals spoke when we colonized them. (Cree, Ojibway et cetera) University entrance does not require being able to speak anything more than English or in a few cases French. (French Universities mostly in Quebec and a few French colleges here and there. I have been toying with learning Spanish for some few years but never really found a platform that suited me until Duolingo. Much of our hemisphere speaks Spanish and many of the countries are vacation destinations. Canada, at least much of it, has long cold winters and the need to escape to warmer climes is high. Who knows, maybe I will end my days sipping Tequila or some other local beverage on a beach somewhere surrounded by Spanish speakers.

November 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/rachael.cr3

Canada is bilingual officially, but it's highly dependent on region. I'm from British Columbia, and though you have to study French from grades 6-12 roughly, most people don't learn it enough to use it for work/living, or retain what they know as an adult. However, people do have the option in most places to study French for longer, or even to go to school entirely in French in an Immersion program. Some other languages may also be offered depending on region, like Barold described above - Spanish and Japanese seem to be most popular in my hometown, but ASL just started becoming trendy. My high school also had a lot of newcomers learning English for the first time.

November 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/AgaragazaRosee

Awesome that they have started to offer native languages!! Those are so beautiful :)) I hope that they would do so in Finland. In Finnish Lapland, there's 3 sami languages, 2 of them almost dead. In Lapland they have sami schools and you can study sami but it's mostly Northern Sami. The 2 others are mainly spoken by few elders. There's some revival happening but ppl are moving from north to south cuz of jobs so they should offer Sami in southern Finland too. There's only couple school in S.Finland where you can also study it. Sami is the only native language in Europe today.We should really revival it.

Here Spanish has become one of the most popular language to study. For example atleast 150'000 Finns spend more than 2weeks in Spain's Costa del sol in winter and there's already finnish school cuz a lot of are moving there (especially elders).

November 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/SmashCookie

I'm from Mexico capital and it's more or less the same situation than the US. There are many cultural and socioeconomic contrasts between different regions or even between parts of the same city, while in urbanized areas is not strange (specially downtown or residential neighborhoods) to find billinguals, in most parts of the country like the suburbs or many different villages and small towns it's not so common, even rare. Althought the situation is different in border cities like Tijuana and it may differ in general in the north.

The mostly taught foreign language is the english with a few exceptions (ex. french-german colleges). Between college students and teachers there's a lot more chance to meet a bilingual since english is mandatory in many careers and there are language programs or instututes which are part of the university. The middle and secondary school students however (highschool here is divided in these two terms) don't learn beyond A2 or even A1 level english. Education has many flaws, the professors only teach theoric stuff: grammar and the like, and there are not a lot of speaking nor hearing excercises so barely a handful of youths among hundreds are bilingual. Nevertheless there are a lot of options in private institutes and private schools, they tend to be all around better to learn a language but not everyone can afford them.

Culturally, language learning is not as encouraged as in Europe since we're not surrounded by other languages. Almost all the media is dubbed or has spanish subtitles, there are only few chances to talk with foreigners even within the cities. We're indeed surrounded by monolingualism so it'd be impresive for the majority of mexicans if you tell them you know other language.

Edit: Forgot to mention the relevant part. We have many indigenous languages like Tarahumara, Otomi, Mayan, Mixteco, Totonaca, Purepecha etc, Mexico is one of the most plurilinguistic countries and while there are considered official (we don't have declared an official language) and are protected by the law some of them are at risk of extinction.

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/duoliberty

People in America aren't even fluent in English. My cousin immigrated from Eastern Europe this year and after her first week of school, she was shocked that kids here can't even speak their mother tongue correctly. Her grade average in English is a 99 while American-born students are literally failing.

Public education in the States is a joke. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad. Private education, though, is world-class.

November 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/AgaragazaRosee

My friend's sister was an exchange student in US (Michigan, I don't remember the city) and she was shocked the level they had with grammar and mispronunciation and they considered her as some high class posh nerd because we (in Finland) are taught UK (something like oxfordian) English and the goal of our high school English is that we should have as great grammar and wide vocabulary as UK student who have a bachelor degree. [She also told that your public high school tests was at the same level than we have in 6-8th grade. And it's awful that mostly the wealthy children can have great education].

(btw everybody usually speaks and writes still more american style because USA entertainment is huge part of our TV/movies and obviously in YouTube).

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/lizsue

Public education in the States is a joke in some school districts and definitely not a joke in others.

Remember that the U.S. doesn't have a school system, it has thousands of school systems.

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/AgaragazaRosee

I thought there would be united school system. Weird that there is not.

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/skyflakes95

Certain things are mandated on a national level, but broad curriculum and educational standards are set by each state, so what's taught in a state like Texas can be quite different from what's taught in Vermont. Finer curriculum is dictated by school systems, which are generally defined by county. Major cities usually have several counties in their vicinity, but counties can also be quite large and have several small towns within their boundaries. Most school systems are called something like XXXXX County Public Schools.

Curriculum varies a lot even within the same school system because funding and resources go to the schools in wealthier neighborhoods. My old school system attempted to even it out a bit by putting competitive magnet programs at every high school, so there was a math/science school, a fine arts school, a Spanish/French immersion school, an IB school, etc. This did bring more opportunities to some students, but the vast majority of the kids who were accepted into the programs were zoned for the wealthier schools anyway. I was in the IB program, which was strategically placed at the most underachieving school in the county to raise the average test scores. So while 400 kids at my school got a world-class education, resources were being directed away from the 1,600 other kids. There was A LOT of hostility between the kids in the program and the kids zoned for the school.

Some private schools in the US are the best of the best, but some barely even cover state standards.

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/AgaragazaRosee

So crazy x0 And omg how many students in one school!!! was it elementary-high school or..?

Here in Finland there's only few schools where the student population is over 1000 and those are usually elementary+middle+high school combined.

November 7, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/skyflakes95

Student population varies a lot. The average American public high school has less than 1,000 students, with the smallest having just a handful while the largest schools (excluding online schools and charter schools) have over 5,000. Generally, school systems have many elementary schools with a few hundred students, and several elementary schools feed into each middle school. Then, several middle schools feed into each high school, which is how we get such a large student population in high schools.

Combined level public schools aren't very common. The school system that neighbored mine to the east served a very low population rural community and the only school they had was a combined k-12 with less than 1,000 students total. There are a few grades 7-12 schools in the high population suburb where I live now, and they each have over 4,000 students.

November 7, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/TonyMintz

Unless your family is from another country other than the United States, it is not expected for anyone to speak anything other than English here. For the most part, there is no legal or educational push for students to learn another language; most people may only take one in their lifetimes here and forget it shortly thereafter. I do wish that the United States made Spanish its secondary language in a governmental basis. We are predicted to have one-quarter of our demographics being of Hispanic speaking origin within the next few decades, so the ability to upbring bilingual students in our education system will be at a higher demand than ever. However, there is still that mentality of, "This is America, we speak American" that can be found in across the generations; something that will have to change soon.

November 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Lemniscatarum

In the Western world (UK here!), if you know another language, people will be like "Wow!" and it also improves your CV. They're amazed because you don't really need to know another language since everyone is expected to know English, so they can get away with being monolingual. At one primary school I did German and Spanish and then I moved primary school, where I did French. At secondary school (Y7 and 8), I studied French and Spanish, and now I've chosen to study French further.

November 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/DonFiore

Does Western world in this case only mean the English speaking countries (minus regions in the immediate vicinity of places like Quebec)?

November 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/ughngugn

I'm from Canada. It's not really a big deal if someone is bilingual, especially since we have a lot of immigrant families, but knowing french will be beneficial in most jobs and applications. If someone knows many languages and didn't grow up with them, then it's pretty impressive, especially if it's more than 2. We can choose to learn languages in high school here, but most people don't because most people hate how French is taught, and it destroys the desire to learn a language for many people. At least in the part of Canada I'm from, learning a language isn't cool, but if you know like 3-4, then it is.

EDIT - I think all Canadians start french lessons in grade 1. MY province had to continue until grade 11, so 10 years of french.

November 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/susanstory

I started learning French in grade 7. Not all the kids in the class were learning French. Some kids only started learning French in high school and only because they had to. I took German and French in high school and I seemed to be one of the exceptions. Most of the kids in my German class already spoke either German or Dutch at home so they already knew either German or Dutch. They were only taking German because it was easier for them.

In grade 12, in my social studies class, the teacher liked to show films. (pre-internet days). This one time he was showing us an old film where Hitler was ranting in German. The boys in the class all started jeering and laughing, even with the teacher in the room, Only the boys laughed, not the girls. The girl behind me poked me in my back. When I turned around, she asked me, "What's he saying?" (because she knew I was taking German) I replied that I didn't know and that he was talking too fast. Then a boy sitting across the aisle from me started laughing.

November 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Elin.7-1

Language teaching in British schools only started at age 11 ( first year Senior school - I don't know how that translates into US grades or the new fangled "Year" system in the UK...lol) when I was at school and generally it was French or German, depending on your school and was compulsory. Mine was French, but I was lucky because in the second year (age 12) we also taught Latin.

It was compulsory to do at least one modern language at O-level (now called GCSE) exams at 16, which meant I did French. I wanted to carry on with Latin and learn German, but wasn't allowed to do either as I was doing all the sciences. I got an A after 5 years of French (I got As in internal end of year exams during the 2 years of Latin) but don't remember much of it now as I don't use it.

There's lots of wow value if a Briton is fluent in other languages, and a feeling that as a nation we're bad a learning them. Personally, I think the truth is that we're bad at teaching them. Lots of immigrants are bi- or tri- lingual, and their children often are - although in previous generations the children often only learned English (for the reasons someone else mentioned like bullying) with English being a 2nd or 3rd language.

There's a lot of debate (along with less polite and constructive talk) about the pressure put on schools of having lots of non-native English speaking pupils and a wide range of first languages in the classroom. There are reports of primary schools having 10-20 different first languages, and reports of schools where the minority of pupils have English as the first language. Gradually, this is becoming seen as a good thing, not a bad thing and speaking other languages is something to be admired, so children of immigrants are keeping their heritage languages. There was a report of a primary school getting a bad inspection report because it didn't "have enough diversity". The school complained, because it was in a very rural place where few non-English people lived and so had non-English pupils!

In Wales, after over a hundred years of governmental oppression (I'm not Welsh, but I can't think of a less emotive word to use for the attempt to eradicate the Welsh language) of the Welsh language, there is a concerted co-ordinated effort to make it equal to English in Wales. There is a gradual (i.e. sensible) roll out of Welsh medium schools and lots of adult education Welsh classes; mother and baby/child Welsh activities and a growing body of literature, Welsh radio and TV. I don't like the militism that comes with it -and the lack of history knowledge which blames "the English" for everything, when in fact the "English" (Angles & Saxons) are still under the yoke of the Norman oppressors (Normans, Spanish, and Dutch - the last invasion of Britain was by William of Orange in the 1700s. I love bite-sized history ;o) ) but believe passionately that we should speak the language - and am learning it!

The debate about whether Irish should be taught and considered equal in status to English in Northern Ireland is at the early stage - by which I mean the two sides (ayes and nays) are at loggerheads - and is causing huge political problems there. Language can be very divisive when used as a political tool.

Staying as far away from politics as possible, I think that all "native" languages should be taught and used and that language education in general should begin earlier and be considered something everyone can do, rather than the assumption that only "clever" people can, or that there are certain people who are "good at languages". When I tell people I like learning languages and can cope (badly) in a couple, I get told that I'm a "language person" - I then point out that actually I'm a "Maths" person and have a degree in engineering. That causes confusion and stops the conversation because (in Britain, not the rest of the world!) you "can't" (are not able to be) both. However, I don't think language should be used to divide people, or for political purposes - rather we should use them to understand each other better and stop disagreements/knee jerk hatreds/wars.

Mae ddrwg gen i - I'm sorry....very long post :o)

November 8, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/AgaragazaRosee

It sounds so funny that there one can only be either science or language person when here in all school levels diversity in subjects are encouraged. Like in elementary school besides traditional school subjects everybody has to have (I dont know how to describe but wood crafts (you learn to do diff things from wood and some motorized things and how to use hammers etc and sewing/knitting(the subjects are called puukäsityö and käsityö(sewing/knitting...) )and it continues in middle school. In middle school everybody also have a subject kotitaloustieto (household knowledge) aka you learn how to cook,clean,iron clothes.. and arts and music. Besides science stuff and social and healt studies and atleast 3 languages (finnish,english,swedish).

So studing only specific subjects sounds awful. Even in high school -after basic courses in over 20 subjects- you can have advanced maths and 6 languages and arts and sports etc at the same time.

And I 122% agree with you. Native languages are extreamly important. Those should be respected. In Finland they have managed to save sami languages but there's still long way to go.

March 14, 2018
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