ENGLISH is the second most spoken language in the world to Mandarin Chinese and is the go-to language of both business and tourism.
In Madrid, Spanish is translated into English on signs, maps and menus and now, 500 taxi drivers in the capital have signed up to a free online English course run by the local authorities to improve the quality of the tourist experience in the region and make “tourists feel at home.”
“More and more foreigners are coming to Madrid for business and leisure,” one online student told the Spanish press. “They account for practically half my rides.”
Having driven a taxi around the city for 10 years, he has no doubt that English is necessary. The course he is on is basic (A1), but he says he practices what he learns with his customers.
“When I have a long journey, I listen to Vaughan radio,” he explains. Vaughan radio is a station specifically geared to learning English.
The online course was designed by Universia, taking inspiration from the volunteer’s English course at the Rio Olympics last year. Madrid’s Director of Tourism Carlos Chaguaceda believes that language is essential to making the visitor feel at home.
Set up with the support of three major taxi associations, the initiative is just the first of many the regional government will be investing in, he says.