LAURA CARTLEDGE Life’s Like That...Why are we all so reluctant to learn to parlez or sprechen?

Is there anything more wonderful than words?

Look at them. Little letters all standing in a row. They are the building blocks of communication, culture and countries.

Which is the reason I think learning other languages is so important.

English is the most widely spoken language in the world – which makes us very lucky, but also a bit lazy.

The fact you can often get by abroad without so much as a phrasebook seems to be the reason a lot of people don’t bother.

Instead they seem to think speaking slowly and waving their arms around is enough.

But I think they are missing out and missing the point.

To get to know a country properly, you really need to speak its language.

I’m not saying you have to be fluent before every weekend away, but a couple of words doesn’t hurt – especially if they are ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’.

Plus I have found you get points for just trying, or better still a smile.

And it can be so much fun.

For instance did you know if you say ‘shut the door’ in the right accent it sounds like ‘I love you’ in French?

Or that the German for glove translates to ‘hand-shoe’?

Many moons ago, when I was taking my A-levels, I was told German wouldn’t run as only three people had signed up.

The fact French ran with only one student still confuses me. But the fact only four pupils out of hundreds wanted to study languages bewilders me more.

Half the problem is lack of demand – which makes it our responsibility.

It’s so sad. We are an island already, why isolate ourselves more?

International relations are more important than ever.

And who knows, one day the answer to ‘parlez vous anglais?’ might be ‘no’ – then where will we be?

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Can you tell I keep answering the phone to robots and it is driving me mad?

Cold calling is one thing, but when you can’t even give them a piece of your mind in return it is just downright frustrating.