Learn a Foreign Language?

Two Americans were out drinking and found themselves at the bus stop after a night on the town. While they were standing there, a convertible drove up.

The driver shouted out, "Parlez vous français?"

The drinking buddies looked at each other, shrugged, and looked blankly back at the driver.

"Sprechen Sie deutsch?" the driver tried.

Again, the two shrugged and said nothing.

"¿Habla usted español?" shouted the driver.

The two looked at each other and shrugged as the motorist sped angrily away.

"Do you think," said the one, "maybe we should try to learn a foreign language?"

"Nah," said his friend. "That guy there spoke three, and it didn't help him a bit."

Helpful Vocabulary

a night on the town = staying out in the evening to celebrate (with alcohol)

convertible = car with no roof

shrug = to raise the shoulders to show you don't know the answer

What's So Funny?

The two Americans spoke only English, so they couldn't understand the visitor's questions in his three languages. From their view, it's not useful to know those other languages because Americans--at least these two guys--don't speak them.

Alan Headbloom

Alan advises Americans how to be global citizens and expats how to fit in to Michigan culture without annoying their native coworkers and clients. He also tweets and blogs at the intersection of language and culture. Over decades, he's traveled, studied, or lived on six continents, putting strange foods into his mouth and emitting strange sounds from it. His use of English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Swedish, Hausa, and Japanese all improve with alcohol use. He gives invited public presentations on culture and unsolicited private advice on English grammar and usage; the latter isn't always appreciated. Visit his website for information on consulting, coaching, or speaking engagements.