@Lauren: I learnt French at school and have had a few chances to use it in France and a few courses since, so I do not feel totally lost in France and can order a coffee or a taxi. However when the French start talking at 1000 mph I cannot follow what is going on! It is very useful and I had the experience of being in China in apart of the country that is not bilingual at all, and every sign and every notice was in Chinese, and I felt very vulnerable and inadequate. regards Robin
I lived in France for 9 months when I was a kid (my Dad was an engineer with IBM), so I got to speak pretty good French. I studied German as an option when I did my engineering degree and did a summer placement in Germany, so my German got to a passable stage. Then I married a Russian, and did a year of evening classes to learn Russian so that I could speak to and understand his family. I have picked up a few words in other countries I have travelled to, I think it is important to make an effort in other countries to at least be polite and say a few words in the local language if possible. Sometimes its too easy to reliy on everyone else speaking English around the world, but I think people appreciate it when you make an effort to speak their language.