Global English in the EU is a policy problem

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Global English in the EU is a policy problem

Postby Le Baron » Tue Oct 24, 2023 1:32 pm

And a policy problem outside just language policy. Here' a recent article derived from NOS (Dutch news) I'll leave this as is and add my observations in a second post.

More Dutch shops have English-speaking staff due to staff shortages, diversity ambitions

It is increasingly common to encounter an employee who can’t speak Dutch in supermarkets and other stores in the Netherlands. That is mainly due to the tight labour market - shops have had to drop their requirement that employees can speak Dutch to fill their vacancies, NOS reports after surveying various chains. But many also cite diversity as a reason to employ people who speak other languages.

Zeeman required Dutch until this year. “Since the labour market has become so tight, Dutch is no longer a strict requirement,” a spokesperson told NOS. “That gives us a little more space; we can place people a little more easily.” The chain only uses non-Dutch speakers in branches where the manager can speak English. Zeeman estimates that less than 1 percent of employees who have customer contact do not speak Dutch.

Hema also cited labour shortages for employing English speakers. “Our branch managers ensure a good balance between Dutch and English-speaking employees,” a spokesperson said. “In the cities, there are more English-speaking customers, so also more English-speaking employees. It is important that our store staff reflects society.”

Jumbo’s goal with employing people who don’t speak Dutch is diversity, a spokesperson said. “We strive for diversity across the board and believe in a culture in which colleagues are different. Especially in metropolitan areas, you also see that some customers also prefer to communicate in English. Naturally, we ensure that there are always Dutch-speaking colleagues present as well.”

Action aims to have a workforce “that reflects our diverse customer base.” Plus prefers to employ Dutch speakers but won’t turn down English-speaking candidates if they are suitable for the vacancy. Albert Heijn employees have been allowed to speak Dutch or English for quite some time.

Drugstore chains Etos and Kruidvat still require that employees be able to speak Dutch. “To be able to properly help and advise customers,” a Kruidvat spokesperson said. However, there are some exceptions. “For example, we have a collaboration with the municipality of Amsterdam to offer people from Ukraine a job,” the Kruidvat spokesperson said.

Smaller, independent stores still usually require Dutch, NOS found.
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Re: Global English in the EU is a policy problem

Postby Le Baron » Tue Oct 24, 2023 1:42 pm

I laughed when I read this because around 2016 lots of companies and institutions started demanding Dutch be spoken at all times (even though this actually contravenes the EU rights, recommendations and desire for 'language diversity'). Yet at the same time the government started drastically cutting subsidies for citizens from other EU countries living in NL to learn Dutch. I've watched as more and more simply don't bother or do low-rent courses which get them to barely A1-A2.

It mirrors all other policy in EU countries. Some magic wish that all funding and organised language integration courses can be stripped away and somehow the people who need it would 'find a way'. So in a few short years it's gone from little signs demanding Dutch be spoken, to them being quietly spirited away. I noticed recently that more and more postmen/women and those delivering packages are speaking English. Also there's a woman on the checkout in my local supermarket (Dirk van de Broek) who speaks only English and presumably another language which not many others speak.

The 'diversity ambitions' is such a fraud. It's hardly 'diverse' having someone speaking English just because they don't speak Dutch. Yet they have to think of some stupid PR stunt to divert attention.
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Re: Global English in the EU is a policy problem

Postby raoulhjo » Thu Nov 02, 2023 6:00 pm

I went to an indian restaurant in France. The employee couldn't speak french.
In a store where people collect parcels, I translated what a customer said to the employee who couldn't understand french either.
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Re: Global English in the EU is a policy problem

Postby Exotic_sunset54 » Thu Dec 07, 2023 2:17 am

Yeah, it's a total joke, right? These shops act like they're all about diversity, but hiring English-speaking staff just because they can't find Dutch speakers? That's not diversity, that's just taking the easy way out. And don't get me started on those PR stunts they pull. It's all about appearances, not actually embracing true diversity. It's a shame, really.
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Re: Global English in the EU is a policy problem

Postby PeterMollenburg » Thu Dec 07, 2023 2:56 am

And so it seems some of the EU's original ambitions are finally filtering through (to the local language degradation level). How long until speaking only Dutch to customers in the Netherlands (or French in France) becomes discriminatory, selective or eventually even racist? Look out Globish, here we (finally) come. It's all progress and always and only about our freedom (to speak what we like, live where we like and identify as we please). Such a progressive, modern world, is it not? If you don't get a chance to read these words, well it'll be progress.
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Re: Global English in the EU is a policy problem

Postby Le Baron » Sun Dec 10, 2023 5:43 pm

PeterMollenburg wrote:And so it seems some of the EU's original ambitions are finally filtering through (to the local language degradation level). How long until speaking only Dutch to customers in the Netherlands (or French in France) becomes discriminatory, selective or eventually even racist? Look out Globish, here we (finally) come. It's all progress and always and only about our freedom (to speak what we like, live where we like and identify as we please). Such a progressive, modern world, is it not? If you don't get a chance to read these words, well it'll be progress.

The odd thing is (or maybe it's not so odd) a majority of people here still hold the view that people ought to be able to speak Dutch. It's the natural first language attempt to anyone. No matter what they look like. Which is of course different from a person opening their mouth, sounding 'foreign' and then the reply defaulting to Dutch.

I don't imagine there will ever be a time where France makes it discriminatory to speak French to non Francophones in France. I also don't see it happening here in NL, because despite the casual willingness to speak English here, when it comes to more formal and engaged matters it always turns to Dutch. The willingness to let this fly for so-called 'lower-end' jobs is one thing, but getting engaged for other jobs is not so easy. Though there were quite a few engaged when I was working in education. For sure though you won't get employed in even a low-level civil service job if you can't speak Dutch, or be turned down if you can't speak English. Several times I have been to the 'gemeentehuis' here where in the next cubical someone can only speak English, and the person dealing with them finds some other employee to speak to them.
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Re: Global English in the EU is a policy problem

Postby PeterMollenburg » Tue Dec 12, 2023 11:46 pm

Le Baron wrote:
PeterMollenburg wrote:And so it seems some of the EU's original ambitions are finally filtering through (to the local language degradation level). How long until speaking only Dutch to customers in the Netherlands (or French in France) becomes discriminatory, selective or eventually even racist? Look out Globish, here we (finally) come. It's all progress and always and only about our freedom (to speak what we like, live where we like and identify as we please). Such a progressive, modern world, is it not? If you don't get a chance to read these words, well it'll be progress.

The odd thing is (or maybe it's not so odd) a majority of people here still hold the view that people ought to be able to speak Dutch. It's the natural first language attempt to anyone. No matter what they look like. Which is of course different from a person opening their mouth, sounding 'foreign' and then the reply defaulting to Dutch.

I don't imagine there will ever be a time where France makes it discriminatory to speak French to non Francophones in France. I also don't see it happening here in NL, because despite the casual willingness to speak English here, when it comes to more formal and engaged matters it always turns to Dutch. The willingness to let this fly for so-called 'lower-end' jobs is one thing, but getting engaged for other jobs is not so easy. Though there were quite a few engaged when I was working in education. For sure though you won't get employed in even a low-level civil service job if you can't speak Dutch, or be turned down if you can't speak English. Several times I have been to the 'gemeentehuis' here where in the next cubical someone can only speak English, and the person dealing with them finds some other employee to speak to them.


I'm quite pleased to have a reply that goes against my rather pessimistic earlier post. While my pessimism may or may not come to eventual fruition in many many years, at least the current situation isn't so bad, from your perspective.

You can guess at my displeasure with regards to some of the policies, direction and even outside influence -hint, hint- of/upon the EU. However there are also some very positive aspects too. For example, many policies affecting health such as environmental safe levels of certain chemicals are more strictly regulated across the EU than say in the Americas, which is certainly a good thing. I doubt this was in practise across all of the EU member states before they joined the EU. Still, such a supra-national construct is always going to lead to the erosion of national policies, practices, culture and arguably language simply in an attempt to align and make more efficient the international (from within and outside of the EU) dealings and interactions with trading partners - dealing with one set of 'rules' in place of 30+ is progress, or at least more efficient, right? I am not necessarily a believer that progress is good - I feel that this is yet another thing 'sold' to humanity so that 'progress' continues, but of course that is my opinion, and of course progress is not all negative. Idk, sometimes I just get a little frustrated with the omnipresence of English and I can see the EU as part of that source of that problem in it's drive to make the EU construct more efficient and language unfortunately can get in the way...

...I wish the world was a little more linguistically balanced, perhaps like Europe in the early 20th century, but that's my linguistic nostalgia kicking in. Yes, I am that old - I turn 184 next week (not at all true), so wish me a Happy Birthday would you?! Or you could say gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag, bon anniversaire, feliz compleaños etc etc. Maybe you'll start the ball rolling and before you know it, Australia will be Dutch (or French or Spanish) speaking!

Edit:
I really do feel that a condition of entry into any EU country (or in fact any country anywhere) for people intending to stay over ___ amount of time should be ___ amount of language study and this I feel should include people coming from other parts of the EU and those who will be working in a language other than the local language (eg English for IT workers). And depending on how long you stay should mean that one ought to reach higher levels of language ___ with increased time in that country, but with government assistance.

Surely if there is a shortage of skilled labour, or labour of particular kinds, taxation could be used to finance local language courses for foreigners (inside our outside the EU) willing to come to the country to practise their trade. To skimp on such things will generally speaking not lead to a substantial increase in the appreciation of diversity but potential degradation of local culture (such as foreign language bubbles). Immigrants learning the local language would on the other hand help decrease this effect and arguably encourage appreciation of diversity (it's unlikely many people can get to know a foreigner well who doesn't learn the local language).

On diversity.... Is it even necessary? I'm not saying there's anything wrong with diversity, but today it's almost seen as a negative trait to have country ____ or culture ____ not be diverse. I don't think that's at all a problem, it doesn't mean that that country or culture cannot appreciate diversity just because their country/culture is not as diverse as others. Why must all countries suddenly be diverse? To show they are not racist? I think diversity could be currently used as an excuse to encourage immigration in the local population(s). I'm sure most of us here on this forum can appreciate diversity without having to be told/encouraged (socially engineered?) to do so.
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Re: Global English in the EU is a policy problem

Postby DaveAgain » Wed Dec 13, 2023 8:35 am

PeterMollenburg wrote:Edit:
I really do feel that a condition of entry into any EU country (or in fact any country anywhere) for people intending to stay over ___ amount of time should be ___ amount of language study and this I feel should include people coming from other parts of the EU and those who will be working in a language other than the local language (eg English for IT workers). And depending on how long you stay should mean that one ought to reach higher levels of language ___ with increased time in that country, but with government assistance.
I think an immigration visa to the UK requires B1 language skills, I think that's quite common.
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Re: Global English in the EU is a policy problem

Postby Le Baron » Wed Dec 13, 2023 4:44 pm

PeterMollenburg wrote:Surely if there is a shortage of skilled labour, or labour of particular kinds, taxation could be used to finance local language courses for foreigners (inside our outside the EU) willing to come to the country to practise their trade.

Point of order sir, taxation is not a source of funding! It is the redemption of (government) liabilities. It's important to separate the popular understanding of this from the operational facts. Not least for this topic where one of the many obstacles we run into is the claim that funding language instruction for functional immigration is "unaffordable".

Your point is otherwise well taken. I have watched as this sort of funding has been further and further withdrawn, going in the completely opposite direction to the claimed aspiration of EU language policy. It hasn't been entirely obliterated (yet), since most, or rather many, migrants in the EU can get language instruction at no cost to themselves. Or partially subsidised. The question of English use, as an auxiliary, is one halfway between 'practicality' and the EU addiction to incoherent economising, which clashes with local culture and politics.
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Re: Global English in the EU is a policy problem

Postby PeterMollenburg » Thu Dec 14, 2023 3:10 am

Le Baron wrote:
PeterMollenburg wrote:Surely if there is a shortage of skilled labour, or labour of particular kinds, taxation could be used to finance local language courses for foreigners (inside our outside the EU) willing to come to the country to practise their trade.

Point of order sir, taxation is not a source of funding! It is the redemption of (government) liabilities. It's important to separate the popular understanding of this from the operational facts. Not least for this topic where one of the many obstacles we run into is the claim that funding language instruction for functional immigration is "unaffordable".


I appreciate the clarification ;) . It seems then that my commonality has betrayed me.

Le Baron wrote:Your point is otherwise well taken. I have watched as this sort of funding has been further and further withdrawn, going in the completely opposite direction to the claimed aspiration of EU language policy. It hasn't been entirely obliterated (yet), since most, or rather many, migrants in the EU can get language instruction at no cost to themselves. Or partially subsidised. The question of English use, as an auxiliary, is one halfway between 'practicality' and the EU addiction to incoherent economising, which clashes with local culture and politics.


Yes, all in all it's a real shame. I feel like people are sold this idea of it being a good idea to degrade nationalism because it is/was to blame for such massive destruction like what occurred during WWII (or so the theory goes). Thus the future is a world without borders and comes with the freedom to move wherever. However, in truth I feel it's about allowing the supra-national construct of the EU to advance it's plans, while culture, languages and whatever else will be mowed down if they get in the way. On ground-level this means (esp. when little funding is in place for local language courses) that English will fill more and more gaps as the lowest common denominator when it comes to facilitating communication.

While a certain person I'd assume would've liked a supra-national construct himself, or perhaps his national values superimposed over the whole of Europe, it seems the EU is actually doing this now but with English at the helm instead, ironically driven not only from within but outside the EU as the 'international language'. This is not progress when it comes to linguistic diversity nor cultural diversity when speaking of the cultures of Europe, so to sell the idea that having English speaking employees in the Netherlands increases diversity is just wrong in my opinion. The more it gains ground, the less value European languages as big as French or as small as Lithuanian (and all others in between) will have. It seems like only Spanish might be safe from the onslaught should it continue because of it's stronger position outside of Europe. I certainly appreciate that this is not happening as fast as my initial post might've alluded to, but give it time, give it time (and willingness).

Many people (on this forum as well) have been a bit perplexed to my positions at times. I've been equally perplexed by theirs. Why? Well, I don't see this global trend (see above paragraph) as progress at all. This is not encouraging diversity. This is globalism, or at least our world's common view and application of it. And while we've become very used to such 'movement' in today's world, I don't believe it's just natural to head in such a direction - we've just gotten used to it, or in other words, it's been 'normalised'. So I'm not a supporter. If one likes the freedom to move, then grant this freedom but stop with the degradation of culture and languages. We can protect what we value, retain diversity (even increase diversity - and I'm mainly speaking of languages here as well as the cultures they represent) and still have an interconnected world. Has it not been said that diversity is necessary for survival? It certainly is where languages are concerned.


(edited once for the realisation of the wrong word choice in one instance)
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