"The whole world speaks English, so I don't need to speak a foreign language." Well... no they don't. And yes you do. According to a Eurostat Adult Education Survey, 63 percent of the adult population in the European Union say they know at least one foreign language. But only 31 percent say they know it well (at a good or proficient level). And some of those are lying—or exaggerating. In the U.S. and UK, acquired second language proficiency is abysmal. The fact is, in a world where geography is becoming increasingly irrelevant, language skills are becoming even more important. And nobody's paying attention. If you think hand-held devices are going to bail you out, don't hold your breath. They're getting better, but they have a long way to go. In international business, proficiency in a second or third language is often as necessary as a business suit. You may be able to get by without it, but people will question your professionalism and educational credentials. Of course, language acquisition is hard. It generally takes years to achieve some measure of fluency in any language, and longer for some languages than others. All the more reason to get started early. So parents, if you're trying to motivate your kids to take foreign language study seriously, send them abroad. There's nothing like international exposure to generate a little enthusiasm.