Last night I watched Brefjat”, Marta said. “Excuse me?”, we asked her. “Brefjat”, she said again. “Oh, Braveheart!”, Rocío said. “Well, yes that one”. Marta is 25 years old, as me. In her curriculum vitae it says that her English level is upper-intermediate, but we know that she barely can speak it. As so many people within our generation and the great majority of Spanish young people. Why is it that in Spain, that tries to be as modern as the other European countries, people almost don’t speak English?

This year is the one to study English

Why every year my friends assure me that this is going to be the year they are going to study English? “This is going to be the year”, Rocío told me when she realised that 2009 was approaching. Her reasons to improve or remember her English were on her interest to obtain a better job. But by march 2009 this beloved friend still hasn’t started to study English. And every time that I remind this to her she smiles…. Apart from the laziness that someone with certain age can feel studying a new language, or taking up again English, I think that one of the responsible of this low level of English in Spain is the Education system. It´s true that now Spanish children learn English sooner, but there´s a problem in this country because later there isn’t a progression on it as it should be.

I can say that thanks to the Official Languages School I´ve learned enough English; if I only had learned this language through my school or high school lessons I wouldn´t be able to write this article. Indeed, this educational lack expands to universities. How can it be possible that some degrees have a big absence of subjects in English? For instance, when I was studying journalism at Complutense University there was only one subject in connection to this language so demanded by companies. It was called “English for communicators”. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of the 50 privileged students that could study it.

Learn the language watching movies and series in the original version

Because of that, I carried on studying at the Official Languages School. Another problem that has caused the short expansion of English between Spaniards comes from its popular culture, mainly from cinema and television. If all the movies weren’t dubbed to Spanish, things would be different. In fact, there is such a huge tradition dubbing movies in this country that we can say, and it is said, that here are the best dub actors. But this means a big gap in many Spanish minds, so used to watch movies dubbed to their language.

This laziness or comfort at the time of trying to understand at least English create problems, as forgetting the little English that one learnt at school. When I propose to my friends going to the cinema in the original language, only few accept. But I have to recognise that lately more of them feel like it, above all since teacher Vaughan arrived to this country. Many people are interested on his radio and television station, something that has allowed this Texan to create a linguistic empire, including an English village in Soria. So, we can say that the majority of Spaniards that start again to learn English in their twenties, they do it in order to improve their labour expectations. Other, a minority, do it because of the pleasure of knowing.