British holiday makers are being warned against travelling aboard this year in a report that shows the standard of English spoken is now worse than ever.

Independent think tank and polling agency ‘Proof Is All’ carried out a survey of holiday makers returning from popular short haul destinations last year including Spain, Portugal, Egypt, Greece, Morrocco and Turkey.

The report has found that the standards of spoken English are now at an all time low and that many holiday makers had their holidays ruined by locals who were unable or unwilling to use the Queen’s English.

Andrew Jenkins Chief Executive of Proof Is All said in a statement:

“Our Use of English Abroard (UEA) score for 2010 has dropped to 4.0 compared to 6.5 in 2009, which is the lowest since our survey began in 1995.”

He continued “Standards are falling fast and someone needs to do something about it”

“The biggest complaint raised from our survey is that British holiday makers are fed up of locals who are unwilling or unable to speak English pointing at things, shrugging or pulling faces when British people ask them a perfectly sensible question.”

“But a close second is the worrying trend of British people being spoken to in German or Russian in many resorts.”

“We Brits are a tolerant nation but when we have saved up all year to go on holiday, especially in the current economic climate, and spend our money in their country you would think they could at least learn English and not mistake us for a foreigner.” He added.

Turkey Bucks the Trend

Despite the overall fall in the quality of English spoken Turkey, one of the most popular destinations in 2010 for British tourists, does buck the trend with its UEA score improving from 5.1 to 5.6.

The reason for the UEA improvement is that waiters are now using popular English phrases much to the delight of tourists.

They include “Alright Mate”, “No Hassle” and “Yes we can book a table for you tonight in our restaurant. Would you like a seat by the window overlooking the sea?”

However, tourists have complained that whilst the vocabulary has improved the accent is just not British enough and sounds like a mixture of Mancunian and Macedonian.

But problems still remain in Turkey as Andrew Jenkins pointed out:

“Turkey has shown a great improvement but there are still some nagging problems especially in the markets with traders using phrases that are factually incorrect. The most common phrase quoted by our survey population is that of “Cheaper than Asda”. We’ve investigated this claim and it’s not true because ‘Asda Price’ is a mix of quality and price giving better cheapness all around. That’s just poor use of English.”

He also said the use of risqué phrases such as ‘Mary Huff’ instead of Fair Enough, ‘Fork ‘n’ Knife’ instead of Knife and Fork and ‘Lovely Jubblies’, a rather poor smutty phrase from that popular 1980’s TV sit com Only Fool’s and Horses, in response to all questions, were a growing problem that needed to be addressed by local and national tourism authorities.


In response to the report the cash strapped Foreign Office is planning an advertising campaign this summer to help tourists make the most of their holiday by learning how to deal with poorly spoken English.

The adverts, which will be shown on planes, in airports and on the internet, will show:

– a group of Egyptian herdsmen being asked by an elderly Glaswegian couple where the nearest fish and chip shop is and making themselves understood by speaking loudly and slowly;

– a Welshman asking for Leeks in a Greek market only to be faced with a shrug. He then makes himself understood by using his Greek phrase book; and,

– a young ‘lady’ from Norfolk in a micro bikini asking a Turkish dolmus driver to stop so she can get off but only being faced by a glazed look from the driver who clearly doesn’t understand English. She puts on a jumper and the driver suddenly understands and stops the bus.