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Bad Economy Pushes Spaniards to Learn English

Bad Economy Pushes Spaniards to Learn English
Bad Economy Pushes Spaniards to Learn English

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Spain is in a recession. More than one in five Spaniards don’t have jobs. Spain’s unemployment is the highest of the seventeen countries that use the Euro. However, one part of the economy is doing well in Spain – English classes.

The EF Education First Company said Spain is a “low proficiency” country in English. Spain is below Italy and a little above Taiwan.

A fifth of the world speaks Spanish. There are many Spanish language TV shows and movies. Spaniards can also watch Hollywood movies dubbed in Spanish. They can watch news from Latin America.

Richard Vaughan is one of the few English voices on Spanish TV.

“Hello and welcome back to another half-hour segment of Cloverdale’s Corner. Today is Tuesday, and Lourdes has had to leave, but we still have four people here . . .”

Richard Vaughan is from Texas. For thirty-five years, he’s lived in Spain. He owns that country’s biggest English teaching company. His company has its own TV channel. “Aprende Ingles” – Learn English – is Spain’s only national channel in English. People watch his channel and take his classes to get a better job.

“People don’t learn English here for cultural reasons. Some do. But the motive is always, 99% of the time, professional.”

Economic problems at home can decrease job opportunities. Globalization may give opportunities for a better job in another country.

“People realize, you know, they are not only going to have to be mobile out of a choice, but they are going to have to be mobile because of necessity.”

In Spain, some of those studying English hope for jobs in Britain or the United States. Others want to work for international companies with offices in Spain. Many companies now say workers must be bilingual.

Dominic Campbell is an American. He lives in Madrid and teaches English part-time.

“It’s a lot of jobs now are actually mandatory that you know at least two languages, and a lot of them actually want at least Spanish and English. And a lot of them are asking for Spanish, English, and French – especially airlines.”

Mr. Campbell says many of his students thought speaking Spanish was enough.

“They just think, you know, ‘My English is poor. I don’t want to speak it. I don’t want to learn how to speak it. I’ve got Spanish. That’s all I need.’”

But people also need jobs. More than 40% of Spaniards in their twenties are out of work.

Inigo Gomez has a degree in education.

“I’m a teacher, and I couldn’t get a job here. So I think it’s a good idea to go to the United Kingdom and try to find a job as a Spanish teacher.”

While he does that, many Spaniards will be working hard to learn English at home.