Brits abroad revealed as ‘keen conversers’
52% of Brits like to make an effort with learning the local language and
eating local delicacies. ‘Lost in Translation’ report launched by DFDS.
A new study from award winning ferry operator, DFDS, challenges the
stereotype that Brits abroad only want to speak English and eat British food.
The study, called ‘Lost in Translation’, looks at holidaymakers’ attitudes to
foreign languages and has identified four key categories of travellers that
Brits abroad fall into.
One of the key findings of the report is that the majority of Brits (52%)
have been identified as ‘keen conversers’, who believe that it is important to
make an effort speaking the local language when travelling abroad and will
always learn a few key phrases in the local dialect. This group is also most
likely to enjoy local delicacies and regards sampling regional cuisine as an
important part of the holiday experience.
The second group identified by the research falls into a category called
‘basic blaggers,’ which makes up a quarter (25%) of Brits. ‘Basic blaggers’ are
people who don’t proactively embrace foreign languages but will always try and
use the limited language skills they have, which are most likely learnt at
school. For this group, a phrasebook or translator app is essential when
venturing overseas, but language barriers don’t stop them from trying something
new, such as a local specialty.
The report reveals that only 14% of Brits have been identified as clichéd
‘language louts’, people who make no effort to speak a foreign language when
they go abroad, accepting that English is spoken widely, especially across
Europe. If conversing with locals, this group would prefer to point and gesture
rather than bother with a phrase book. Cautious and unadventurous, they only
like to eat food they know.
At the higher end of the spectrum, an impressive 8% of people surveyed were
identified as ‘total travellers’, who consider language to be integral to their
holiday experience. This group likes to feel confident when conversing with
locals and doesn’t feel the need to use a phrasebook. ‘Total travellers’ are
also keen to build on their language skills, and local cuisine plays a large
part in their decision of where to visit.
When asked why it is important to converse in the local language, the top
five most popular responses from those surveyed were:
- It’s polite (68%)
- It’s part of the overall holiday experience (48%)
- It connects people (35%)
- It’s the best way to communicate with others (34%)
- It’s enjoyable (32%)
The top five phrases people were able to speak in foreign languages were:
- Hello (85%)
- Thank you (84%)
- Goodbye (83%)
- Please (77%)
- My name is... (68%)
The report reveals that the biggest barrier when learning foreign languages
for British holidaymakers is a lack of time, with 48% of Brits saying they would
like to learn another language but simply don’t have the time.
Max Foster, passenger director at DFDS, comments: “At DFDS,
we help to connect people and cultures across a variety of countries. We’ve
found that language is an integral part of the holiday for many of our
passengers, especially those who like to immerse themselves in the different
cultures and cuisines of the places they visit. We’re fortunate to carry
passengers from a variety of nationalities, which we believe makes for a richer
sailing experience for everyone who travels with us.”
Teresa Tinsley, a researcher and consultant on languages and multilingualism,
comments: “This report shows it’s time for us Brits to stop agonising about poor
language skills and pat ourselves on the back for our efforts to speak local
languages when we go abroad. The vast majority of us can at least say ‘please’
(77%) and ‘thank you’ (84%) in another language and are clear that it is polite
to try to meet locals half way linguistically, instead of expecting them to
speak English. That shows a positive disposition towards language learning,
which can be built on in the future.”
“In fact, for me, the key finding of this survey is that as a nation we’re
already becoming more multilingual. More than 20% of 18 to 24 year olds say they
are already fluent in another language, while the figure is just 8% for those
aged 55 and over. Younger people are also less likely to say they are not
interested in learning other languages (only 7% of 18-24 year olds, compared to
15% of those aged 55+). So while we won’t all become ‘total travellers’, the
message is that whether you’re a ‘basic blagger’ or a ‘language lout’, it’s time
to make to brush up on your language skills and look forward to a less
DFDS is encouraging people to take part in a Facebook quiz
testing their knowledge of common phrases in a number of foreign languages. All
those who take part and submit their score will be entered into a prize draw to
win a European phrase book every week AND a free mini cruise or ferry crossing
of their choice.
Do you have a language gaffe you’d like to share? Be sure to visit our
Facebook and Twitter pages and tell us yours - www.facebook.com/dfdsseawaysuk
DFDS operates sailings between Dover-Dunkirk, Dover-Calais,
Newhaven-Dieppe, Portsmouth-Le Havre, Newcastle-Amsterdam and Harwich-Esbjerg.
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