English and Spanish

IE Focus - English and SpanishJanuary 2009 | By Rafael Puyol, Professor at IE Business School and President of IE University

Pride in a language is not compromised by using English or Spanish, the worldâ??s two most important languages. Holland shows Galicia, Catalonia and the Basque Country how itâ??s done.

Last week, an academic commitment took me to Amsterdam, an attractive city with a human face and an excellent selection of cultural options. I had not been there for several years and as soon as I landed in Schipol, I was pleasantly surprised by two things.

The first was that, besides their own language, all the Dutch speak excellent English. It doesn´t matter whom you speak to, where you speak to them or why you speak to them. Most educated people speak English, but in a taxi, a restaurant, a museum or in the street, it is spoken by drivers, waiters, porters or the police, and that defines Holland as a modern, international country.

The second pleasant surprise was the large number of people who can or try to speak Spanish. They do not feel uncomfortable when they speak it. They like to speak to Spanish-speakers in Spanish, whether to talk about the place they know or the fact that Real Madrid has five Dutch players or to comment on the way the Spanish national side play and even how they are capable of beating the Dutch.

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