Larry Brain - Jul 8, 2008

It is a well known stereotype the most Americans abroad act like they own the world, expect to be treated royally everywhere they go and do not indulge in anything that is not American. It is indeed a common sight to see Americans turning their noses up at anything which is not directly from the States or they are commonly heard with such stupid questions such as “what is that in real money?”. However, their British counterparts from across the Atlantic have absolutely no room to talk, as research from has embarrassingly illustrated.


Let’s start with the positives: 42% of Londoners are capable of speaking a foreign language at a high level and almost half of the British travelling population attempts to pick up a few words of a foreign language. However, the positives finish there. It should be noted that the Londoners provide a huge exception and many of them are immigrants with language skills from their countries of origin. Furthermore, 75% of the Brits who try to speak a foreign language when abroad are so incompetent that they get even the words for „yes“ and „no“ mixed up. Some would argue it is better not to bother.


This appears to mostly be the case as 81% of travelling Brits refuse to take a phrasebook to their holiday destinations. One third actually bring items such as tea bags and bread on holiday with them in order to avoid confrontation with the locals in foreign shops. Almost 5 million, or 10%, admit to speaking louder or slower as a last resort when the locals do not understand their English. Some even admitted to speaking English with a foreign accent as they think it helps. Away from language, the British have been found to be ignorant on the culinary front as well. An astonishing 69% tend to head immediately for “pie and chips“ restaurants or British pubs instead of trying local specialties.



Do you learn few foreign words when traveling? Add your comments.


  1. I am British, from Liverpool, and speak 3 languages fluently. It is far easier for foreigners due to increased exposure to English through the media, however, most Brits are lazy and can't be bothered to learn the languages properly. Most do try to use certain phrases which is more than some Americans I've met, and British people in general are amongst the most travelled in the world, and are visiting further and further away from home.

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