The shame of only speaking 1 language

Multi-lingual jealousy:

Four and a half weeks have passed since I first landed in Europe and I have to say I am seriously jealous of anyone that possesses multi-lingual skills, possibly even to the point where I almost feel shamed that coming from New Zealand I can only speak english.

Now this is not for the lack of opportunity in NZ, but rather the fact that we are for the most part a single language nation (Maori is taught, however it is only used by a small percentage of New Zealander’s). Learning a secondary language that is used in other countries is usually an optional class at high school, with languages such as German, French, Spanish, Japanese, and Italian commonly offered. However, the difficulty in learning a secondary language is that unless you are required to use that language on a regular basis it can be very difficult to become fluent (this same concept also applies to any programming language).

Being primarily an English speaking country, and so isolated from the rest of the world, the opportunities for regularly utilising a secondary language certainly do not exist as much as other parts of the world. Our closest neighbour (Australia) is 3 hours away which demonstrates how isolated we are, by comparison travelling for 3 hours from most European countries will give a reasonable selection of countries to visit.

In NZ speaking a secondary language fluently is a rare thing, yet in Europe and some Asian countries speaking a tertiary language fluently is not uncommon. So it should be easy to see how I could almost feel shame at my inability to speak a secondary language fluently.

However, I refuse to let the language barrier stop me from attempting to communicate with other people. Granted it can be extremely frustrating at times, and some other people may give up completely, I intend to persist and with a bit of luck will be able to successfully communicate (albeit on a limited level) with the people I meet.

About Anthony Dowling

Founder Sjones Limited, focusing on developing ID and Security Card Solutions. Long time Delphi Developer. @AntDowling
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