Thomas sent me a link to this the other day but I found it a bit too depressing to blog immediately. I think I first wanted to get it straight in my head what I thought was so depressing about it...
I think the end of the article sums up a great deal of the problem. By banishing language learning from the school curriculum, we lose out on a great deal of culture, literature and the likes in the nations geographically closest to us and therefore isolate ourselves and force ourselves to look outwards to countries that are much more remote such as Australia or the US. (And believe me reading the translation is NOT the same)!
We force ourselves to become monolingual and therefore monocultural which can only result in smaller-minded, less empathetic people. We assume (completely wrongly) that Europe is close and their 'culture' is similar to our own, but unless we learn their languages, we never find ourselves sitting round their dinner tables seeing the differences. By never trying to adapt to all the slight differences between the cultures around us we simply float on the periphery of what everyone else can see.
To me a greater achievement of bringing my kids up bilingually is perhaps their understanding that their French/Danish and Scottish parents are different from each other as are their German/Danish/Scottish/French grandparents. They realize they all behave differently and have different expectations. And of course they have all been used to sitting round a dinner table from birth where three languages are being spoken simultaneously so they all believe bilingualism is normal and not something only 5% of the population should be able to achieve.