Sacre bleu! People from the Blackpool area are less likely to speak a foreign language than residents anywhere else in the UK – according to the results of a new survey.
And while people in the south are more likely to be bilingual, the research revealed 70 per cent of residents in the resort spoke only in their native tongue.
The conclusions were taken from a national survey of 2,000 people, commissioned by conference call provider Powwownow, which showed that, as a region, the North West was the least multi-lingual in the UK, followed by the North East.
Londoners were the most likely to speak a foreign language, with 45 per cent of people saying that they could do so.
The survey found that younger people aged 18-24 in Blackpool were most likely to speak a second language, with 45 per cent of those who took part saying they had learned to do so.
That proportion fell to only 35 per cent for over 55s.
But a mini straw poll conducted by the Gazette suggested that older people in the town have better linguistic skills than the poll’s findings suggest.
Of the people we spoke to aged over 55, two-thirds did speak a second language to varying degrees of fluency.
Ann Anderlik, 75, (above), of Peel Hill, Westby-with-Plumptons, speaks German – she has been married to an Austrian for 32 years.
“I learned German at school, but that doesn’t prepare you to speak fluently,” she said.
“I’ve absorbed it from my husband watching German TV and we used to go to Austria for periods of up to six weeks. When I think of it my friends don’t tend to speak a second language but I don’t think it holds back Blackpool because most people speak at least a limited amount of English.”
Elaine Bottomley, 66, of Lowton Road, St Annes said that she and her son Andrew, 34, both speak Spanish.
“We’ve had a holiday home near Alicante since I was in my late 20s and if you did not speak the language you didn’t get very far. So I learned Spanish at Blackpool College and we were spending two or three weeks at a time at the holiday home.
“Andrew now spends six months a year there running a surf school and my grandchildren, are able to speak it.”
Lance Croot, 55, of Osborne Road, Blackpool, added: “My ex-girlfriend was half-French so I can get by in French and I also speak Italian because I’m a musician and a lot of music is in Italian terms. I run a guest house and the Italian came in handy when we had some Italian guests - although their English was better than my Italian.”
Others admitted they did not have language skills. Paul Lavery, 60, of Speyside, Blackpool, said: “For me it’s not a problem if people from Blackpool don’t speak another language.
“I still go abroad on holiday every year and get by, be it through a bit of sign language or because people there can speak some English.”
Trevor Owens, 79, of Stonyhill Avenue in Blackpool, added: “I speak two languages - English and Yorkshire! I’m quite happy as I am but I admit it can be a problem if we are not bothered to learn other people’s languages.”