GOLF ace Colin Montgomerie has branded Britain “lazy” for failing to learn foreign languages.
Monty said too many people resort to speaking loudly in order to be understood when travelling abroad.
He berated his countrymen for not making more of an effort to learn a foreign language and admitted he is ashamed of our lack of linguistic ability.
Monty said he would brush up on his own language skills Photo:Paddy Briggs
And mindful of his own abilities the former world number two has vowed to work on his own language skills.
The 48-year-old, who has travelled the world while playing golf and has captained the European Ryder Cup Team, said: “We are the laziest nation on earth. All we do when we go overseas is to speak slower and louder, and then get irritated when people can’t understand us. In this day and age it’s appalling. I often wonder what those overseas think of our lack of effort in this regard.”
Perthshire-based Montgomerie suggested that other sportsmen and women should follow his example and try and make themselves better understood while abroad.
“Wouldn’t it be good if we were able to make speeches appropriate to the countries hosting our events?” he said.
“We pride ourselves on our team spirit in Europe and were we to get together for language classes, it would help foster these good relationships.
“We could all chip in £20 per lesson and it would be £20 well spent.”
He claimed that professional sportsmen have plenty of spare time to brush up on their language skills.
In his new autobiography, Monty, he said: “It’s because you can’t play and practice all day that I think we should be given the opportunity to attend language classes in the evenings. I upload a lot of DVDs to take with me when I go away, but I know I would feel a whole lot better about myself if I could polish up my French or Spanish. That way, I would really feel I had accomplished something.”
Lloyd Anderson of the British Council Scotland, an organisation funded by the Foreign office to promote UK culture abroad, said that Brits were perfectly capable of learning a second language.
He said: “I wouldn’t say we are bad at learning languages, but perhaps we are a little lazy when It comes to learning languages.
“There’s still a belief that everyone else will speak English and, therefore, we don’t need to bother. The reality is that if you are wanting to go out into the world and sell things, you have got to sell in the language of the people you are selling to.
“There are very strong economic arguments for learning other languages, but also people really appreciate it if you learn even a few phrases when you go on holiday.
“If one does not bother to learn a single word of the language it does come across as rather imperious.”
But Michele Gordon, who runs the Language Hub, which provides foreign language classes to children, said: Sadly the UK remains at the bottom of the pile within the EU when It comes to learning other languages. However people are slowly comeing round and realising how important it is.
“I speak to a lot of parents who now realise that their children’s future prospects will be brighter if they are able to speak at least one other language.”
The Scottish Government last month announced plans to increase funding for language teaching and to start teaching children a new language from primary one.
Minister for learning Alasdair Allan said: “We will not be successful and a country and economy if we remain a monolingual society.”