There are several things which makes a Romanian speak well foreign languages mainly English. One main thing is that Romanian kids are taught foreign languages since childhood (since kindergarden many times). Now, this was a practice in Romania even on communist times! That was quite rare in the communist block: to learn English especially on those times.
In that period of time kids usually started to learn English, French, German and Russian at the age of 8. Italian and Spanish were introduced in schools after the communism fall (1990) and Russian was taken out.
Another main thing is that in the last 10-12 years the computer usage exploded in Romania (still has lot of room to grow). Nowadays, every kid and their friends has a computer at home. They teach also some computers in kindergarten and more in schools. Many Romania kids, teenagers and students prefer to have their operating system in English and not in Romanian. The internet connection is also spread but not as much as we want. We are among top 5 countries in the world with the fastest Internet access. Still, the penetration rate is among the lowest in Europe. So, there is still room to grow here too.
Foreign movies, TV series (including documentaries) are not dubbed in Romanian. Never were. Only recently some cartoon movies or series for little kids (who don’t know yet how to read) are dubbed in Romanian. Because Romania opted for subtitling and not dubbing (subtitling is less expensive) and that since communist times, we were used to hear foreign languages in theaters of TV. That contributed to our understanding and learning of foreign languages (and this is yet another main thing).
French, Spanish and Italian are particularly easy to learn for a Romanian French isn’t because they are in the Latin family languages, just like Romanian language.
In Romania, at this time, I can say that, from among those foreign languages I have mentioned, English is dominant.
When the filmmaker John Emmerson and his co-producer Joel Carr arrived in Bucharest, they were immediately energized by the ”phenomenal” level of English. This caused them to focus on the question, ”Why do young Romanians speak English so well?”.
In the opening sequence of Lessons from Romania, a native Romanian English teacher explains how the end of the communist period brought with it a major shift from traditional methods of teaching to a more communicative approach. While the change has been mainly positive, there is some concern that important building blocks from the Grammar Translation system are now missing.
Personally I think that young students are very fluent but they tend to have problems with stuff like grammar and vocabulary.It is evident that young Romanians possess an enthusiasm for the English language that goes far beyond the classroom.
Following their trip to Romania Emmerson wrote in his blog: „Over the course of our trip, we learned a great deal about the process of learning English and how it differs from place to place. However, a common source for practising and learning English seemed to be listening to music and watching films.” Hundreds of readers responded to the blog entry by sharing their own favourite English films, musical artists and authors. In Lessons from Romania, interviewees discuss this passion for English music and television and describe how these media provide important opportunities for self-learning. As one learner explains, even the „Romanian bands sing in English.” Children and adolescents are very open to foreign languages. Relevant are the results from Cambridge, also from EFTA examinations and TEOFL are exceptional in the world. Romanian students have very good results.
Nonetheless, professor Bădicescu considers that certain aspects of the Romanian educational system could suffer some changes. She explains that in order to be more productive, foreign language classes should be taught to smaller groups of students and not to the entire class. Of course this is a practice in some Romanian schools and it is advisable to be adopted by every school with the purpose of increasing a positive result regarding foreign language learning.
All in all, even if surveys show that Romanians compared to other European citizens do not use foreign languages so often, facts show that there has been done a step forward in increasing people’s interest in foreign languages. So, if you are not convinced yet by the importance of English language here you are some reasons:
- is one of the most widely spoken language
- will open up more opportunities for you
- will make you more desirable to employers
- gives you access to someof the world’s best universities
- is the language of some of the world’s greatest literature
- allows you to get more from popular culture
- allows you to attend international conferences and events
- has a simple alphabet and everyone’s equal
- gives you wider access to knowledge
- is a fantastic intellectual challenge.