I always wanted to be fluent in another language. I studied Spanish in school, passed my HS Regents exam back in the day, but never got it down. I never learned Italian because of the racism that my grandparents faced when they came to the US in 1915. Studying a new language in school actually helps a person "think" better as far as I'm concerned. Maybe that's why right wingers hate Obama's idea so much.
Predictably, right-wingers flew into a rage at Obama's un-American call for better language skills. For example, John McCormack at the Weakly Standard labeled language education as snobbery and elitism. John Derbyshire called Obama's suggestion "idiotic" because "not many human beings can learn another language", as his own failures prove. He combines that with characteristic condescension:
In fact, below some cutoff point, which I'd guess at around minus one standard deviation in IQ (that would encompass sixteen percent of the population), education beyond the three R's is a waste of time, and foreign-language instruction a total waste of time.
What, my good pal John Derbyshire had a tough time learning another language? Well, that's not surprising. And since most Europeans speak many languages, are they just smarter? I don't think so. It's because all the countries do so much business together and are so close in proximity that it makes sense all around.