We get a lot of travellers from Europe and Asia passing through the hostel every year. The vast majority of whom have a fairly decent facility with the English language.
Of all European countries it is said that the Germans are the most travelled. If the number of guests at the Canadiana is any indication, that is pretty much a fact. Close behind the Germans are the Dutch – a much smaller country but well represented by the number of visitors to Toronto.
The Dutch also speak excellent English. I think it’s safe to say that, of all European countries where English is a second language, the Dutch speak it the best, by far. In fact, a good number of visitors from the Netherlands have been mistaken, by locals, as people who have English as their mother tongue..
One might be forgiven if they say that Dutch is a somewhat harsh and gutteral sounding language. However, spoken French beautiful – arguably the language of poetry and music. The French, on average, do not have the English language skills of other Europeans.
There may be a pretty good explanation for that. French, without question, is a nicer sounding language than English; the language of music and poetry as they say. It was once the language of all European Royal Courts until it was supplanted by English. And the French, it seems, still haven’t recovered from the English language usurping that exalted position.
A lot of people who come here to learn English seem to go about it the wrong way; this is especially true if they come in large groups. There is a strong tempation to retreat into the cultual similarity of fellow students and thus spend virtually all of their time speaking their native languages.
Nonetheless, they seem to learn a lot through osmosis with virtually everybody else around them speaking only English and that alone, makes coming here to learn the language worthwhile.