(Photo credit: http://bit.ly/2az5srq)
We all tend to think that everyone on the planet is screaming to become fluent in English, but that is so not true, in fact some people are so adamant about it they almost have created a movement on it.
I was doing a trip to Kazakhstan last year when I first came upon the utterly negative reaction to English. It was a driver – a Kazakh of course, and someone in my hotel informed me that it would be best to get myself a guide or a drive of my own because there will be a reaction if you try to speak English with them. I persevered with the driver, until one day he just didn’t turn up and I assumed that was the end of everything so I did end up getting someone to guide me who could speak English – and it was so much easier not just because of the lack of English in the city of Almaty but also because I couldn’t handle the constant negative reaction.
But I thought about this guy and wondered what his motivations were to stay truly Kazakh in all things and never expand his mind to anything more. These were the things that appeared to be true for him:
- Learning English is too hard
I’m not going to debate this one, it is hard, particularly when you are in a country where no one speaks the language and you have no interest in seeking out people to practice with. It’s hard anyway, let alone not being able to practice it.
- Learning English is too expensive
Certainly in Kazakhstan, to learn 5 days a week for 9-12 months is just way out of most people’s budget. English is really for those who come from wealthy homes or want to pursue a glamorous life, so for many it simply isn’t a financial option no matter how much you want it.
- Learning English is not relevant
If you aren’t leaving your home country and have no plans to ever, why bother to take the time to learn English if it will never be something that you will need in your day to day life.
- Learning English is time wasting
To learn a language takes a lot of time and effort, it’s not just about passing exams, so you have to be really committed to it. If you are someone who is planning to start a business or some kind that won’t use English much, why waste your time learning the language when you can put your time and energy into getting your business off the ground.
- Learning English is only useful if you plan to do something important in life, and most people just want a simple life
This is the most obvious one. Even in Europe, the bulk of the people who don’t speak English either a little or not at all are from the backgrounds of wanting very simple lives. They have found the one they love, all they want is to settle down into an easy job with an easy lifestyle and start having babies. Not everyone wants to climb the ladder of success in business or society, most people are very happy with what they have and don’t want to change. It’s secure, you know what is going to happen, and you can settle into simply enjoying what you have.
So all these reasons seem quite feasible to me, and for sure most people who don’t learn English have their own particular reason. But one thing we have to always remember is that learning English is not for everyone.