Inst wrote:As for A2 in many vs C1 in few, the way I look at it is the number of "important" countries as well as the cost-benefit analysis for various countries. In the EU, English is forming a Lingua Franca, not Esperanto. There's always going to be local languages, but English is so widely used and taught in additional to the native language that you can get reasonably by with English. In Asia, on the other hand, most of the native languages are extremely difficult for a native English speaker so the return on investment isn't good when you're talking about B2 proficiency. Latin America, on the other hand, is a major exception, because Spanish or Portuguese is common there, but Anglophony isn't, and Spanish and Portuguese are relatively easy to pick up and have good return on investment.
On the other hand, I am well in favor of A0, or tourist proficiency. Dhanyavad, Shukriya, Shukran, Anyeong Haseo, Kamsahamnida, Arigato Gozaimasu, etc. It's just learning polite language to attempt to show locals that you are making an effort and that you are trying to respect their society or culture. It's not the same as, say, learning survival terms (do you speak English, etc), because you aren't seriously trying to communicate in the target language (and in practice, you always want to find an Anglophone because there's little point in effectively communicating by pantomine except in emergency), but in my experience it is usually appreciated.
Do you have any actual experience with Europe? The fact English is so widely taught doesn't mean that much, the usual level varies a lot (good luck in the countries worse at English outside of the touristy places). Or does a large part of the US citizens forced to spend some time on Spanish at school speak it?
(or Asia too. I have only two weeks of experience in Japan, and I can tell you that relying on the natives' English outside of the main tourist places is definitely risky. The pantomime was often actually better.)
For some basic touristy situations, you don't actually need any langauge, not even English. Pointing on things and paying will work. But in many situations, the local language is extremely useful. And the more you travel, the more likely you are to get to less standard situations, and you'll appreciate the language in such moments a lot.
Nobody was talking about Esperanto, that is another category. But learning the languages of countries you are likely to travel to repeatedly definitely makes sense. It can improve the experience immensely and be very practical.
Of course you can stick just to English everywhere. But you shouldn't expect much from such travelling, just some sightseeing and that's it. And that's still just tourism, you leave out the millions of people travelling for work, for study exchanges, and so on. But even as a tourist, you can experience much more, if you are willing to not be lazy. A2 or B1 for one weekend doesn't make sense. But for twenty week or two long stays in the country, it definitely does.
It depends on your definition of "getting reasonably by". And you really are an optimist, willing to rely on finding good enough English speakers everywhere instead of relying on yourself.
Also, knowledge of two foreign languages, English and something else, is becoming more and more of a standard for the younger generation, and many job offers require exactly that. Obviously, the other language brings something valuable to the skillset. If it was that useless, as you naively think, the employers wouldn't be willing to pay for such a skill.