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In which countries english is officially the second language?


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I was wondering about this: In which countries english is spoken in daily life in addiction to the native language? I mean, here in Italy schools teach basic english, but i don't really think it is so important. Obviously if you are going to find a job a requirement is "good knowledge of english language" but not all can speak it fluently (actually almost no one), it is not used daily, we speak only Italian and its dialect. If you are Italian and you go to a store and start to speak english fluently, people may not understand what are you saying and probably watch you with the eyes wide open :tongue: I'm not so fluent and good in english but i had a friend at school who couldn't speak a word of it, in fact we had to help her doing english homework at university. I don't think this is really good, i dare to say that is absurd not to know a word of english nowdays. I'm not saying to speak it fluently, but i think that knowing some basic notions, basic conversations, words etc, would be really helpful. What about your countries? How much is english used and how it is considered?

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32 minutes ago, Mameha said:

I was wondering about this: In which countries english is spoken in daily life in addiction to the native language? I mean, here in Italy schools teach basic english, but i don't really think it is so important. Obviously if you are going to find a job a requirement is "good knowledge of english language" but not all can speak it fluently (actually almost no one), it is not used daily, we speak only Italian and its dialect. If you are Italian and you go to a store and start to speak english fluently, people may not understand what are you saying and probably watch you with the eyes wide open :tongue: I'm not so fluent and good in english but i had a friend at school who couldn't speak a word of it, in fact we had to help her doing english homework at university. I don't think this is really good, i dare to say that is absurd not to know a word of english nowdays. I'm not saying to speak it fluently, but i think that knowing some basic notions, basic conversations, words etc, would be really helpful. What about your countries? How much is english used and how it is considered?

In Switzerland English is not an official languages. However, most of the people here can speak some English. Most young people are fluent in English, whereas older people are sometimes struggling to get their message across in English (not very surprising, is it?).  I am always amazed to see how good Scandinavian people/countries are when it comes to speaking English. Some of them almost sound like native speakers to me. 

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I know from friends that India and the Philippines speak English too. Most people learn it when they are young to get better job opportunities. Also, Switzerland as well. I know that from a lot of Xbox friends and youtubers. They all speak English and some Swedish friends of mine too. 

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Ireland is the closest one I can think of.
In some of the Caribbean islands that are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands English is officially spoken too.
Although it's a city and not a country, and although it's just a defacto example, I could also consider Amsterdam to use English as their second official language.

Other nations are South-Africa and India, due to their participation in the Commonwealth.
Hong Kong is another example due to being a formal British colony for some time.

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Botswana is another country whose official language is English. All formal and official events are conducted in English. I guess this is mainly due to Botswana being a former British protectorate in the colonial times. Most people speak English, but what I find worrying is the fact that a lot of privately educated children speak far better English than Setswana. Most young people prefer to communicate in English than Setswana because that's what they feel comfortable doing. It worries me because I wonder if this spells the beginning of the end of the Setswana language :(

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12 hours ago, lushlala said:

Botswana is another country whose official language is English. All formal and official events are conducted in English. I guess this is mainly due to Botswana being a former British protectorate in the colonial times. Most people speak English, but what I find worrying is the fact that a lot of privately educated children speak far better English than Setswana. Most young people prefer to communicate in English than Setswana because that's what they feel comfortable doing. It worries me because I wonder if this spells the beginning of the end of the Setswana language :(

Oh i hope this doesn't happen! It's bad if a language disappears.. speak english is ok nowdays, it's the main spoken language in the world, but people shouldn't forget about their origins and own language, which is one of the biggest patrimony of a country 

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2 hours ago, Mameha said:

Oh i hope this doesn't happens! It's bad if a language disappears.. speak english is ok nowdays, it's the main spoken language in the world, but people shouldn't forget about their origins and own language, which one of the biggest patrimony of a country 

I totally agree with you, Mameha. Sadly, there appears to be people in this country who seem to think it's COOL for their children not speak their own mother tongue. I just find it bizarre and very disturbing. I grew up in a mixed house, but interestingly we all speak both English and Setswana. I also have people close to me who share my sentiments and ensure their children get the best of both worlds. We can only hope and pray that my language and culture don't disappear. Thanks, Mameha :) 

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On ‎12‎/‎18‎/‎2015‎ ‎8‎:‎07‎:‎21‎, Mameha said:

I was wondering about this: In which countries english is spoken in daily life in addiction to the native language? I mean, here in Italy schools teach basic english, but i don't really think it is so important. Obviously if you are going to find a job a requirement is "good knowledge of english language" but not all can speak it fluently (actually almost no one), it is not used daily, we speak only Italian and its dialect. If you are Italian and you go to a store and start to speak english fluently, people may not understand what are you saying and probably watch you with the eyes wide open :tongue: I'm not so fluent and good in english but i had a friend at school who couldn't speak a word of it, in fact we had to help her doing english homework at university. I don't think this is really good, i dare to say that is absurd not to know a word of english nowdays. I'm not saying to speak it fluently, but i think that knowing some basic notions, basic conversations, words etc, would be really helpful. What about your countries? How much is english used and how it is considered?

I want to say that you may not think you speak English well, but I do.  I especially want to remark on your use of "its".  That is great.  You would not believe the amount of native English speakers here in the US who spell that "it's" and then argue that they spelled it correctly because it is "possessive".  They also confuse "they're, there, and their".  So, bravo on your command of the English language.  I think it's great.  I also agree that since there are so many languages out there, you should learn them based on your needs.  I'm not the type of person who thinks that everyone everywhere needs to learn English; I think language learning is a personal choice.  However, if you move to the US, you may face ridicule if you don't know at least the basics. 

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@pesic87 Thank you for that, it is really helpful for my question!

@lushlala There is nothing cool about losing the own origin, you are lucky that you have a really nice family that made you grow up with both languages! :)

 @czarina84 Thank you! There is still a lot of words, expressions and things in general that don't know about english (most of all i'm not used to speak english normally so i don't speak it as fluently as i speak italian when i talk). Here one of the most common words that people confuse are "dead" "death" and "died". I'm just one of those people here that really liked the study of languages, unfortunately i had the opportunity to learn only english in high school (some schools teach French and Spanish too, in fact my brother learnt French in secondary school), but i think that knowing the basics could be very very useful...it makes you have a lot of advantages even in daily life, ora at least this happens to me :) 

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Nowadays, I think almost any country can consider English their second official language. What with the Internet and the Mass Media and all, I don`t think any part of the world hasn`t had any contact with the English language. If this is a good thing or not? Only time will tell.

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2 hours ago, Chris_A said:

Nowadays, I think almost any country can consider English their second official language. What with the Internet and the Mass Media and all, I don`t think any part of the world hasn`t had any contact with the English language. If this is a good thing or not? Only time will tell.

Unless you consider North Korea, where anything that's even distantly foreign is banned.

And I have also been invited to both LINE and Skype by Japanese people before who told me they can't speak English and needed me to explain them some online instructions in Japanese.
And this wasn't just 1 or 2 of them, it has been a whole list of people!
Something closer to both of us would be France.
Lots of people in France either only speak very basic English or no English at all.
Only an obvious minority speaks English fluently there.

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1 hour ago, Blaveloper said:

Unless you consider North Korea, where anything that's even distantly foreign is banned.

And I have also been invited to both LINE and Skype by Japanese people before who told me they can't speak English and needed me to explain them some online instructions in Japanese.
And this wasn't just 1 or 2 of them, it has been a whole list of people!
Something closer to both of us would be France.
Lots of people in France either only speak very basic English or no English at all.
Only an obvious minority speaks English fluently there.

Unfortunately this happens in Italy too :rolleyes:

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12 hours ago, Blaveloper said:

Something closer to both of us would be France.
Lots of people in France either only speak very basic English or no English at all.
Only an obvious minority speaks English fluently there.

Yes, that is correct. France is one of those countries where if someone asks a thing in English, even if they understood you, they would even pretend they do not speak English. I know this because a friend of mine was doing this social experiment, and it turned out that not only some of them speak perfect English, they also refused to use it in their own country.

In my country, Serbia, English is getting popular, so to say. Some fifty years ago, only a few would speak a language, but today, due to media exposure, songs, people commuting to English speaking countries, studying the language, etc., the English language has become a widely spread and used language around here. Still not official, though.

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18 hours ago, Mameha said:

@pesic87 Thank you for that, it is really helpful for my question!

@lushlala There is nothing cool about losing the own origin, you are lucky that you have a really nice family that made you grow up with both languages! :)

 @czarina84 Thank you! There is still a lot of words, expressions and things in general that don't know about english (most of all i'm not used to speak english normally so i don't speak it as fluently as i speak italian when i talk). Here one of the most common words that people confuse are "dead" "death" and "died". I'm just one of those people here that really liked the study of languages, unfortunately i had the opportunity to learn only english in high school (some schools teach French and Spanish too, in fact my brother learnt French in secondary school), but i think that knowing the basics could be very very useful...it makes you have a lot of advantages even in daily life, ora at least this happens to me :) 

@Mameha, I admire your drive and passion for learning English. I have to commend you, because your English is very good....so keep at it, and you WILL only get better over time. After all, practice does make perfect!

When I lived in Italy briefly I made friends with a few Italians, and communication was very difficult because I spoke very little Italian and they spoke even less English. But what amazed me was the fact that they were more than happy to meet me halfway. I wonder if me making an effort put them at ease and spurred them on to also put in an effort. 

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Here in the Philippines the language used in teaching almost all the subjects in school is English. Official documents used by companies and government offices are written in English. English speaking foreigners love to be here because almost all of the signs are written in English. The business processing outsourcing is nonstop because we have a lot of people here who can read , write and speak the language.

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1 hour ago, lushlala said:

@Mameha, I admire your drive and passion for learning English. I have to commend you, because your English is very good....so keep at it, and you WILL only get better over time. After all, practice does make perfect!

When I lived in Italy briefly I made friends with a few Italians, and communication was very difficult because I spoke very little Italian and they spoke even less English. But what amazed me was the fact that they were more than happy to meet me halfway. I wonder if me making an effort put them at ease and spurred them on to also put in an effort. 

If they were happy to meet you, surely you spurred them :) where do you lived?

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   I know Malta is because I lived there little less than two years. They are bilingual country with Maltese and English. However, their English is far from what it should be with the OFFICIAL title. They tend to mix it with Maltese and the accent is at least funny. I don't have an English accent and to be honest I never tried to have one but these people are just wrong about this. Younger population is OK, but everybody above 30 are seriously wrong about pronunciation. You cannot tell if they were Italian, or Maltese or even Arabs. It really shouldn't be one of the official languages but I think it is because of many tourists and people who came to work there. It is easier to communicate with people in English than in Maltese.

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I think most of the Caribbean either has English as their national language or as their second official language, excepting for Cuba, of course.   It's odd, I was talking to a guy who is from the Dominican Republic, but his English doesn't seem to be so good. 

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Quite right. The Philippines was under Spanish rule for 300++ years, but interestingly it was English that stuck. After Spain, it was the Americans who came to our country and we were under them for 50 years. So, English indeed has become a second language to us. While it's true that English is widely spoken and most signs are in English, there's also half of the population (I don't know the exact statistics)(read poverty level + poor education), that aren't well-versed in the language. As one American blogger puts it, tourists definitely should not be scared of coming to the Philippines because if you're here, if the person on your right doesn't speak English, chances are high that the person on your left most probably do.

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57 minutes ago, Trellum said:

I think most of the Caribbean either has English as their national language or as their second official language, excepting for Cuba, of course.   It's odd, I was talking to a guy who is from the Dominican Republic, but his English doesn't seem to be so good. 

In the case of Cuba, it's because of communism.
Communists hate English, so yeah. :P

Speaking of the Caribbean, did you know that some islands there are still part of the USA, UK, France or the Kingdom of the Netherlands?

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23 hours ago, Blaveloper said:

In the case of Cuba, it's because of communism.
Communists hate English, so yeah. :P

Speaking of the Caribbean, did you know that some islands there are still part of the USA, UK, France or the Kingdom of the Netherlands?

 

Yeah, my therapist went on holiday to one of those Islands ;)   He recognized my ''Naar Nederland'' cook immediately, he said: ''Oh Dutch!''.   And yes, I supposed it was because they are communist, but did you know their kids are doing way better academically than the rest of Latin America?   We were talking about that the other day a friend of mine and I.  They also they have the best doctors there, kinda blows the mind... I know someone who has visited that place and the things look so different in the street. 

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In Ghana, like many African countries, there are so many tribal languages that many will speak the former colonist language (in this case, English) to one another because that is the language they have in common. The English in Ghana is Britannic so mixed with a strong accent can sound very different to the North American English many are used to. Oddly enough, the nearby countries like Benin and Togo, were colonized by the French so that is their common language. The distance between traveling in between these countries is like traveling across several states but when you enter them you realize you are in a totally different country because of the language. Where we currently live, English is not an official language but it is being taught in schools. Since Madagascar, hosts many tourists, the children are being taught to find professions that might use the tourists language of choice. French is the number one. But English is a strong second. Even the tourists from other countries will often try to speak English with locals as opposed to their own European or Asian languages. But here, a tourist does better to speak French. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 21 December 2015 at 1:55:34 PM, Mameha said:

If they were happy to meet you, surely you spurred them :) where do you lived?

I lived in Ferrara, and I absolutely loved it. I found it to be a pretty town with very warm people. They used to make me laugh though, when they'd compliment me on my 'nice tan'.....oh yes, my natural tan LOL

On a serious note....everywhere i went, I made friends. Most people seemed friendly and welcoming, and as is usually the case, the minute I started to speak in Italian, they opened up even more. It never mattered that my Italian was nowhere near perfect. In fact, they'd express how well I was doing in the short time I'd been there. I hope to return to Ferrara one day in the future :)

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