We had a great response to our recent language learning survey; thank you to everyone who took the time to complete it. First things first: we’re delighted to announce that the winner of the iPad mini prize draw is Konstantia Sakellariou. Congratulations, Konstantia – your iPad is on its way!
We wanted also to share a few of our findings with you. Some of the results from the survey were as we expected, others were quite surprising. Here are just a few of the things you had to tell us. Thanks again for all your thoughtful responses, we’ll put them to good use.
Which language(s) are you learning (or would like to learn)?
The first question was pretty straightforward. A couple of people ticked every language on offer (over 100) – now that’s what we call ambition! – but most chose between 1 and 5. Here are the top ten most popular languages: Other popular choices included Greek, Swedish, Dutch, Brazilian Portuguese, Norwegian, Irish, Polish and Icelandic. We also got some requests for languages we don’t yet offer, like Guernésiais and Twi – we’ll do our best to add those languages to our list, so watch this space!
Why are you learning a language?
Next, we wanted to know why you’re learning a language. Nearly half of the respondents chose travel as a reason, and almost as many said they were learning a language just for fun. 36% of respondents said it was for family reasons or for a relationship, and 27% for work. The results were quite evenly split though, showing that there’s no one overwhelming reason – everyone has their own motivation. Among the other reasons, we had a range of answers, including an interest in the culture of the language, personal challenge and wanting to follow literature, film and music in other languages. Many people are living in another country, which was their main motivation for learning the local language. And one person said that their heart asked for the knowledge, which we loved 🙂
What prevents you from learning a language?
We were also interested to know what stops people from learning a language, so we asked you to rate the following reasons out of 5. The most common barrier to learning is a lack of time, followed by not having found the right method, and then the cost involved. Incidentally, if you’re facing any of these barriers, you may like to check out our recent posts, on finding time to learn a language and learning on a budget. And if you’re looking for resources, did you know you can try out the EuroTalk learning method for free? Either visit our website, or download our free app, uTalk for iOS, to give it a go. We believe learning a language should be fun, because our research shows we learn much better if we’re enjoying ourselves, and this in turn makes it a lot easier to overcome the obstacles that get in the way. See what you think! Other answers included not having an opportunity to use the language, a lack of motivation and difficulty finding resources for the particular language they wanted to learn (we may be able to help there – we’ve got 136 languages and counting…).
How have you used your language when travelling?
Finally, we asked how knowing another language has been useful when you’re travelling. There was no clear winner here, which just goes to show knowing a language is always useful! But the top response was that it gives you the ability to talk to locals in their own language; many people added that they felt more welcome as a result and that it gave them independence so they could make the most of their trip. There were lots of practical reasons too, with getting around and eating out narrowly beating shopping in the poll.If you missed out on the survey this time, don’t worry – we’re planning another one soon, so keep an eye on the blog (you can subscribe by email above to get the latest updates), or follow us on Facebook or Twitter. And if you didn’t answer this survey but would still like to have your say on any of the questions, you’re very welcome to email us or add your thoughts in the comments below.
Data above based on 877 survey responses.
I don’t like shopping much – that’s just not me at all. But put me on the the A40 to Westfield, White City and I’m your man. Oh the joys of driving in post-riot Ealing at the end of last week! As I speed past spookily quiet streets complete with their boarded up shops and waved on by the police, I get there in record time. My one aim – to do my little bit for our economy during these dark days. I think the rest of West London has the same idea as the car park is filling quickly. But it’s the food that I’m after, for Westfield boasts a number of restaurants, and I’m in search of … well, what I’m told is the best Mexican in town.
Wahaca sounded like a bit of a godsend, if, like me, you’ve spent some time south of the Rio Grande, got to know the food, and returning home kept wondering why no one could be bothered to do it properly. That is until Thomasina Miers came along (ex-Masterchef winner, I’ll have you know) who set the joint up.
Thank you, Thomasina, for your unfussy, flavoursome delights that didn’t cost me ‘un brazo y una pierna’ (do they say that in Mexico?), for using fresh, well-sourced ingredients and keeping your food simple! I loved the Ceviche Salad – so fresh and lemony – and the Pibil Tacos, filled to the brim with tender marinated pork, weren’t bad at all. Oh, I could go on, because even if you think you don’t like Mexican food, there’s a chance you’ll change your views after eating here. Wash it all down with one of their Mojitos, or even a cerveza (you can get a Negra Modelo). Don’t go for a long, romantic dinner though – it’s too noisy and full of buzz!
Wahaca is a chain, but not on the scale of Topshop or Zara, just a few yards away; with just four premises they’re keeping it small, and I hope they don’t spoil it by opening too many more. You may not want to come all the way to Westfield – Soho and Covent Garden are central enough, if you’re visiting town.
Learning a language can sometimes be fraught with problems when you try to put your new-found skill into action (like ordering the wrong thing in a restaurant), but even if you really are fluent in a language it can still backfire on you.
Some 25 years ago, when I was finally fluent in Modern Greek and often being mistaken for being a true Athenian Greek, I used to travel to all parts of Greece at a moment’s notice with my children, or with friends – no advance bookings, we’d just get the air tickets to Athens and decide which island to go to once we arrived. My knowledge of the Greek language always stood us in good stead and we seldom had problems. It also meant that we were offered much hospitality by the Greeks, who are such welcoming and lovely people to know.
One day, back here in the smoke, a friend took me to a Greek restaurant he’d found in Bayswater, and it was a terrific place. A musician played the bazouki, we danced a lot, the food was wonderful and we spent the whole evening speaking English and Greek alternately. When my friend asked for the bill, the manager came over and asked us whether we were English or Greek, because he’d heard us speaking both languages and he was puzzled as to our nationality. When he discovered we were both English but had learned to speak Greek at home with books and cassettes, but without formal lessons, he was very impressed. So impressed that he offered us anything on the menu as a gift. It was not difficult for me to choose. I absolutely love halva. That was my selection. I hadn’t remembered that the halva you get in a Greek taverna is not the halva that you’d buy in the shops. Instead, it’s made with semolina and it’s the one I don’t like!
Needless to say, when it was served to me I couldn’t find it in me to turn it away, so I ate as much as I was able to. I thanked him profusely and then said I was full up, having already eaten three courses before it, and this was accepted by the manager. No big deal, you might think. However, more than six months later I returned to that Greek restaurant and took with me a male relation who was in London on a visit, thinking it was unlikely that I’d be remembered especially as I was with someone else and there would be no Greek spoken that evening.
Imagine my chagrin when, at the end of the meal and with nothing being said about it, the halva was presented to me once more. I couldn’t believe it. I ate it manfully (or perhaps it should be womanfully) and made up my mind to not go back there any more. It was such a pity because their hospitality was second to none.
What would you have done?