Survey says UK travellers lack language skills

9th Oct 2007

More than half of British travellers wouldn’t know how to ask for
basic directions in another language if they get lost abroad.This is according to a new survey by Rosetta Stone, which has launched
Version 3, Personal Edition of its acclaimed foreign language
learning software in the UK. The software incorporates state-of-the-
art voice recognition technology and uses Dynamic ImmersionTM to
teach language the way we learned as children; one word at a time and
building to more complex sentences.

Conducted by YouGov, the poll was commissioned to gain an
understanding of the UK’s foreign language proficiency and associated
travel habits, and surveyed more than 2000 males and females across
the country.

Despite Spain being the most popular tourist destination for UK
travellers abroad*, nearly nine in 10 (87 per cent) don’t know how to
ask for general directions in Spanish. Furthermore, more than four
out of five (82 per cent) are not able to follow basic directions
such as ‘left’, ‘right’ and ‘straight’.

The survey also found that almost two thirds (62 per cent) of UK
residents don’t speak a second language and of the third that do, 
over 70 per cent speak French.

French fared better than other popular languages on the survey, 
including German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. This could be due
to the fact that France is the second most popular travel destination
for Britons* or because French is the primary foreign language taught
at most schools in the UK**. Even so, only 40 per cent of British
residents said they are able to ask for directions in French. 
Unfortunately, even if given the most basic directions, half would
not be able to follow them.


Italy, Portugal and Germany are other highly popular travel
destinations, with millions of UK nationals visiting every year.* The
Rosetta Stone poll revealed that more than 90 per cent of them are
likely to get lost in Italy, as they can’t ask for directions or
follow instructions in Italian. They will do marginally better in
Germany, with 85 per cent not being able to ask for directions in
German and 79 per cent not being able to follow these, while almost
all British adults run the risk of getting lost in Portugal.

Interestingly, the survey also found that a considerably larger
number of Britons know how to ask for a drink at the bar in a foreign
language, than can ask for general directions. For example, only 13
per cent of Britons can ask for directions in Spanish, but more than
double (29 per cent) know how to ask for a drink at the bar.

Currently, almost 70 million UK residents travel abroad every year
and figures show that we are becoming more adventurous with our
destinations, with visits to South America, Asia and Africa on the

Steven Wines, Managing Director Europe at Rosetta Stone, said “Locals
in these regions are less likely to speak English, so it is important
to learn the basic language skills, at the very least. Learning a new
language used to require tedious translation, memorisation and dull
grammar drills. The Rosetta Stone program includes none of these, but
instead offers an exciting, innovative, effective program, making the
learning experience fun. Learners today want fast, easy, effective
language programs, as they increasingly intermingle with other
cultures both at home and abroad: Rosetta Stone is the answer.

“The Version 3 instinctive user interface, high-quality audio and
beautiful photography make this language learning experience a
pleasure, while the latest technology in speech recognition means
that users can have an engaging conversation with their computer, 
gaining fluency and confidence before interacting with people.”

Version 3 Personal Edition is the next generation of the award-
winning interactive software that uses technology to create an
environment of complete immersion in the language, which is proven to
be the fastest and best way to learn a new language. Through Adaptive
RecallTM, learners are tested on new language knowledge at optimal
intervals to ensure efficient retention, while the program’s
Contextual FormationTM uses these patterns and life-like simulations
to provide the context learners need to obtain results.

Rosetta Stone Version 3 is now available in the UK in the 10 most
popular languages offered by Rosetta Stone. An additional 20
languages are available in Rosetta Stone Version 2.

Millions of learners in more than 150 countries have already used
Rosetta Stone to gain the confidence that comes with truly knowing a
new language.


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