Can you guess which nation is the ‘dumbest’ when it comes to languages?

Pimsleur Language Programs has released its first survey after 50 years in the language industry. It’s called Americans and Language: Perceptions and Realities, and hopefully it will shame the citizens of that fair land to wiki more on the world around them, rather than cooing over celebrity bio’s.

According to the survey, less than 10 percent of Americans are aware that Mandarin Chinese is the most commonly spoken language in the world, and nearly three-quarters (70 percent) of those polled incorrectly maintain that English is the most commonly spoken language, followed by Spanish (14 percent). Yet, the number of people speaking Mandarin more than doubles the number of English and Spanish speakers.

Other survey findings show:

Despite the uptake in usage of language learning programs, almost three-quarters (73 percent) of Americans are unable to hold a conversation in more than one language. Of those who say they are multi-lingual, just under half (49 percent) can have a conversation in Spanish, 15 percent can have a conversation in French, and six percent in German. Only four percent of Americans, respectively, can speak Hindi, Italian, Japanese and Vietnamese.

Americans have concerns with learning a new language: the biggest challenges cited are difficulty (32 percent) and not having enough time (29 percent). Nearly one-fifth (18 percent) of Americans felt they were “too old” to learn a language; 16 percent were intimidated because they had failed at learning a new language in the past.

French is the language of love. Nearly half (45 percent) of those polled agree that French is the sexiest language on Earth, compared to only 16 percent who said Italian, English (15 percent) and Spanish (10 percent).

So my learned Americans, take your lesser brothers and sisters in hand – and wise them up a bit about all the beautiful things (Not kim kardashian, well, five minutes a day studying pictures of Kim is exploring the wonders of nature) this world, and not just Texas, has to offer.

The company behind the survey have released the Pimsleur Course Manager App (available also as book) of Dr. Paul Pimsleur’s classic How to Learn a Foreign Language, with its 30-minute daily lessons, which the app will badger you to finished within the alloted time.

Originally posted on Kalkion.com by Dominic Kennedy

About Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

13 thoughts on “Can you guess which nation is the ‘dumbest’ when it comes to languages?

  1. To America’s credit (though not to disagree with the underlying point, which I agree with), “most common language” could be interpreted as “most universal/most global”, as supposed to “highest population of speakers”.

    Personally, I would interpret the question as the former rather than the latter, as I emphasize utilitarian concern, and English is a far more commonly spoken language than China in *most* countries, and the English is taught as a second language in most countries, whereas China is not. So I think this question is badly phrased, all things considered.

  2. In all fairness, Mandarin might be the most spoken language, but the overwhelming majority of its speakers are localized in china. English has fewer speakers, but it is the most widely distributed language in the planet and is also the principal (official or defacto) international language of business, diplomacy, international organizations and to a slightly lesser degree, science.

  3. Mandarin is not the most spoken language, I would still argue that it could be english.

    A lot of chinese don’t speak mandarin, “most” speak there own native version of chinese. A lot of chinese who aren’t from the north (beijing) don’t speak mandarin very well, if at all. And being that a lot of people speak in india speak english “native” too, and it is mostly used communication language between different people (outside the borders of there countries).

    I met a lot of chinese people from the south, wo barely spoke mandarin, their English was mostly better, if the spoke it all. So making mandarin a second language for a lot of people.

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