s_allard wrote:To see how young students actually acquire proficiency in a foreign language, one only has to see what rich parents around the world do. Number one is they send their children to (expensive) private schools in the target language. In all the major cities in the world one can find so-called international schools in English. One can also find some lycées français and even the rare German schools. Number two, parents will often hire a private tutor or an au pair that will speak to the children in the target language. Number three, students will follow some on line tutoring service or take special language classes after regular school hours. Number four, children are sent for a stay of some length in a country of the language. The end result is of course a level of proficiency that is of course way beyond anything the normal state school can provide.
True. Now what does that actually mean for people who are not in the top 5% of earners? That their kids are doomed to never speaking a foreign language?
It's not top 5%, more like 20 or even 30%. 5% perhaps in some developing countries with extreme social differences, not in the EU.
Some sort of extra school language learning is actually quite common. It is rather normal for the middle class people too. The rest is divided: those, who succeed even through cheaper means (mostly teens with computer games, tv series, and all that stuff), and those who don't care. The % of people, who really cannot afford anything, is not that high (let's not forget that piracy has helped millions of people get out of the trap, and made languages accessible. Too bad the legal and not too expensive ways are developping so slowly in many countries). And many of the too poor people are not interested in education anyways, paid or free, and the solution needs to be more complex in their case. Not even the best teachers in the free schools would make a difference without other changes happening too (for example a solution to the housing crisis, which affects the school results enormously).
Btw it is really not just about English. For example extracurricular German is very demanded in various EU countries too, because its teaching (along with other languages) in public schools has been reduced to leave more space to English. But parents are not dumb, many realize really well that their Polish or Czech kid has a much better chance to get a wonderfully paid job in Germany than in the distant and proud UK. And as it is rarer on the internet or tv than English, the parents are even more motivated to pay.
It is all about motivation. If the English natives finally stop getting so many privileges all over the EU and the world, they'll adapt. Once they have to learn a language in order to move abroad, profit from a student exchange (it's absolutely aberrant, that there are even anglophone degrees in various non anglophone countries. We let the failures from the anglophone countries buy much easier degrees. and damage our reputation while doing so), or get an international job, they'll start learning languages. If they have to pass a language exam to graduate from high school, it will motivate them too. And they'll also become more humble people, actually more interested in the world around them, more aware of the existence of other cultures and points of view
And to the point about the anglophone entertainment being simply much more motivating: we just need to outlaw geoblocking, and invest some money and effort in the PR. Many countries actually produce tons of great stuff, but the anglophone stuff steals all the light, thanks to better marketing. And the langauges of science? We are gonna pay for our laziness to learn for example Mandarin and Japanese in the decades to come. These countries use their languages as a natural wall. They understand the rest of the world, the rest of the world understands only what they serve us on a silver platter.