Warum lernt man Deutsch? (Why Learn German?)
When Americans travel through Germany, they can stop almost anywhere and start a conversation with a child or adult in ENGLISH. But if the person starts talking in GERMAN, communication problems usually start to happen. The reason for this is that Germans are taught English throughout their academic years. In contrast, relatively few Americans learn any language other than English, and most of them do poorly in language study.
Today's business world has become so international in scope, that more and more Americans have realized that a knowledge of a foreign language and culture can play a major role in successfully establishing profitable foreign contacts. Most American business people who travel abroad are like fish out of water when foreign languages are spoken.
Americans attending German trade fairs usually don't speak the language to any useful degree. But German businessmen coming to the US speak and understand English. They offer jobs to Americans, but most of the time these jobs go unfilled as a result of language deficiencies. So do jobs with US companies doing business in Germany!
Can you order from a menu and get what you thought you ordered?
Why do both situations exist? Why must Americans be so language-poor?