November 13, 2009 / 11:12 AM / 11 years ago

No foreign language on holiday please, we're British

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Britons love to travel to exotic destinations, but don’t expect them to speak the local lingo, a new study reveals.

Tourists walk alongside a promenade at the port of Piraeus, west of Athens August 7, 2009. REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis

The survey by online travel service showed that more than half of Brits going abroad on holiday refuse to embrace local languages.

More than one in 10 of the 2,012 respondents said that they felt there was no point in learning foreign languages as everyone speaks English anyway.

Although 16 per cent of tourists are still happy to holiday in foreign-speaking destinations nearly two-thirds (62 per cent), were embarrassed by their inability to speak another language.

Some 45 percent of respondents said locals have acted negatively toward them because they don’t make the effort to communicate in the local language. Despite this negative attitude toward Brits, only four percent of those surveyed said their ideal holiday would be in an English-speaking country.

French was revealed to be the most widely spoken language with over a quarter of respondents (27 percent) saying they could speak enough to order a meal or hire a car.

One in three over 60s proved that they are more inclined than their younger counterparts to speak French and tourists from Northern Ireland (36 percent) topped the league table as the most linguistically savvy.

The under 20s were found to be the best equipped to cope with foreign languages, with more than half saying they can speak a second language.

“Although the survey may appear to show Brits in a disappointing light, there are some encouraging signs that British holidaymakers want to make more of an effort when abroad but simply lack the confidence,” travel expert Bob Atkinson said.

“For those who do make the effort the result can prove invaluable when confirming travel plans or asking for directions.”

Reporting by Paul Casciato, editing by Patricia Reaney

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