Oh, to Be Bilingual in the Anglosphere
The dominance of English as the global language is a mixed blessing, as native speakers often lose the brain benefits of a second language
THERE are many reasons to be grateful for being part of the “Anglosphere”. English is the world’s lingua franca, the language of science, technology, business, diplomacy and popular culture. That probably explains why it is the world’s most widely spoken language.
It probably also explains why native English speakers are so reluctant to learn a second language. It’s not worth the effort.
In 2005, the European Commission carried out a survey of the European Union’s 25 member states. The two with the lowest rates of bilingualism - defined as being able to hold a conversation in more than one language - were the UK and Ireland. About two-thirds of people in these countries speak only English.
It’s a similar story wherever English is spoken as the mother tongue. Only about 25 per cent of US citizens can converse in another language. In Australia the rates are even lower.