Wednesday, March 11, 2009


If you would like to test my sententious statement about Englisb being the lingua franca of the world, I suggest you do the following. Pretend to get "lost" in Shanghai, find a pavement stuffed with people. They will be going in different directions but, as in a two lane traffic road the Shanghailanders will do the same. Ready? Get set. Turn around slowly, very slowly, taking care not to stretch your arms and bump against people who are all hustle and bustle.

"I am looking for Nanjing Dong Loo,"( Nanjing Road) you say as loudly as your vocal cords will permit. You need to project you voice because the sounds of traffic and humans are LOUD.

Dozens of men, women and children will reply in a tris- trice."Madam, you are on Nanjing Road. Perhaps you are searching for a particular street corner?"

You'll find yourself staring at them wide eyed and open mouthed. To be sure,many of their inflections are typically Chinese but their pronunciation is by and large correct. People are just delighted to practice their English with anyone who speaks the language.Any opportunity is a good one for the gregarious people of Shanghai.

KL - Kuala Lumpur is another such place. But then, the English ruled over Malaysia when they called it Malaya which is not altogether wrong. The lovely brown -skinned people come from the Malay race as do Indonesians and Filipinos.

Shanghai is exceptional because almost everyone speaks English and many of them sacrifice a part of their hard earned money to have private lessons with native English speakers such as I.
American movies shown in English without subtitles used to be standing room only.Now words like reservations and advance booking has entered their vocabulary.

It is difficult nowadays to hear English spoken well on the streets of London. Professor Higgins of Pygmalion and My Fair Lady fame would be revolted at how the language is not only mangled if spoken at all, but how London has turned into a babel of languages.

Italians are the worst offenders in the little knowledge they possess regarding their verbal, conversational and reading skills in English. I would venture to say that their English language skills and comprehension is quite low.

It isn't entirely their fault. Until the year 2007, English as a subject matter wasn't even taught in the public or private schools. Now children attending pre-school are lucky to have English lessons but only for an hour a week. That is hardly enough to enable any child to have a command of English anytime soon. That will not assure them a good position in the services industries, tourism, marketing, electronics, engineering, certainly not in banking, finance, economics and research. And let us not even mention those who are in the legal profession. Familiarity of legal and juridical terms would be of great assistance to them in International Law, Corporate Law or in abuses regarding Human Rights.


You must not be afraid or ashamed of making mistakes. We all make them in learning a new language. Just throw yourself in the melee, so to speak.

There are many schools throughout Liguria which charge thousands of Euros for courses in English. I have yet to meet one student who can hold a proper conversation in English after years of wasting their time and having their pockets cleaned out.

To be continued...

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