Where I come from, if you are bilingual, then you are considered ‘smartypants’. However, with increasing globalization and immigration, I’d argue that bilingualism is no longer so rare that its surprising.
Given that English is the world’s third most spoken language (by number of speakers, behind Chinese and Spanish respectively), there’s something to be said about everyone knowing English.
This was actually quite surprising for me, when I was abroad, the only place I ran into trouble communicating in Europe was possibly a city outside of Amsterdam that nobody ever went to, but my Dutch friend was there – other than that, there were also incidences where I was approached by a stranger who spoke German or Swedish to me, but quickly changed to English when they recognized their mother tongue didn’t register.
In Metropolitan cities in Europe you’d find more bilingual, trilingual, and multilingual people – in fact, I was just chatting with my Danish friend earlier – whom I had no idea spoke German, until well…I asked.
“You’re going to Berlin? Wait, do you speak German?”
“Ja, natürlich! ;)”
In English, “Yes, of course! ;)”
That’s it! I thought. I need to up my language learning game – so far I can say I understand the following in varying fluency (well from what I understand most to what I understand least).
And of course, I have 63 days to one up my friend – because currently.
“Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof.” – #whateven?