Over the years I have travelled a fair bit, more than my fair share and I have no intention of stopping now I have started. Luckly my work keeps me on the move and I should average about once a month out of the UK. I have also made a habbit of socialising internationally from college to present day. I have played with many languages over the years: French, Japanese, Spanish, German, Polish, Swedish, Norwegian and now Greek, none very successfully however but I tried for love and money.
Combining these two elements I have drawn some conclusions about different countries approaches to language…
1) France – They once claim to want everyone to use French as the international language, they don't really mean it. What they infact want is for everyone to be more French. Even if you learn the language many will hold you in contempt for not actually knowing it well enough. If you miss-pronounce something they will look confused and no ammount of hand gestures will help you.
2) Norway (perhaps also Sweden but experience is limited) – Their attitude is "Oh, your trying to speak Norwegian? Isn't that sweet, you got it totally wrong, don't bother lets just speak English." Pleasent enough, but a country which also doesn't know how to hear things badly pronounced.
3) Poland – Their view is: "no one knows our language unless their parents emigrated and even then there isn't much hope." or "hello neighbour, so close lets chat" (if your from Czech, etc). No matter how old the person is, how much they don't speak Engish they want to communicate with you, they will try their best and find out what you want or need through gestures and other languages. Never seen a pensioner work so hard to find out what I wanted.
4) Greece – They find it fun when we speak Greek, don't mind when we speek English but like the effort we make. They will try and understand misspronunciation, but it's not the easiest language to pronunce correctly for the English.
5) South Korea – "Wow, that was fun, I have no idea what you said but I am glad you tried to speak Korean, now lets have a drink to celebrate". Oh what a hang-over was had..
6) Italy – "Thanks for trying Italian, lets see if you can understand me back, no? Well lets mix it up between the two languages". I assumed it was going to be like France, but it was totally not. I even tried to order "fruity red wine" in Italian and had a laugh.
7) Bahrain – "Thanks for greeting me in Arabic, lets do this in English, thats why I studied in abroad".
8) Netherlands – A quote I have heard twice was along the lines of "if your going to visit our country you should learn our language", this is reserved for non-tourists (tourists get the normal simple friendly smile). It turns out there is a dagger behind their smile, they resent the fact that the English don't learn Dutch if they are a regular visitor, unfortunately I am a visitor in many countries and despite my efforts I can't learn them all!
9) Belgium – "I speak good English, I'm not French/Dutch/German, don't bother speaking in another language to me unless its Flemish."
10) …. please offer your suggestions of other languages/countries.