First of all, lets be clear. I’m English, and like many Englishmen I speak precisely one language fluently. Yes, I learned French to a reasonable degree in school (most of that has been forgotten). I did some Arabic classes later in life (again, mostly forgotten) and have picked up a smattering of Spanish. But ask me to say anything more in-depth than, “hello old chap,” and it’s English all the way.
Which is why I’m frankly in awe of anyone who can speak multiple languages. And down-right gobsmacked by anyone who can also write in more than one language.
So when I receive messages, emails, tech support tickets or even view forum posts where a non-native English speaker has written, “please excuse my English,” it frustrates and really annoys me. Why are you apologising for being able to do something which the majority of English – including myself – cannot be bothered to do? It’s we who should be apologising to you for not being able to converse with you in your native language.
A couple of months ago I met a very nice lady called Mia who was an intern at ZPS for 8 weeks. Mia is Danish, but her English was of such a high standard I’d place her significantly above the quality of most native English speakers I know. In fact off-hand I can only think of one person I know who’s quality of English is higher, and he’s Scottish. When talking to Mia I was able to whip out words and phrases I’d not used in years and instead of flying over her head they were understood and responded to. Glorious!
If you’ve taken the time to learn a second language, no matter what level you’re at, then be proud of yourself. Don’t apologise, because you’ve nothing to apologise for. Give yourself a pat on the back, put a swing in your step and carry on with the good work old chap!