Have you seen the recent Babbel commercial — for a language-learning app — that starts out as follows:
Ever wonder why Europeans seem to speak so many languages…?
And their answer is…?
Maybe it’s because we rely on old ways of learning, and they rely on Babbel.
It’s a fascinating logical move — well, illogical move. For it nicely illustrates a classic fallacy: just because A comes before B doesn’t mean A caused B. For although it may indeed now be the #1 language app in Europe, as the commercial goes on to claim, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s approach to learning is the reason Europeans speak (and don’t just seem to speak, by the way) so many more languages than North Americans.
It’s a great example of how we use discourses on the past as part of our modern strategies, always pursuing contemporary interests — or, better put, how, in this case, the marketing team strategically disregards an alternative discourse on the past, one concerning a thousand years of close (and at times violent) interactions among various linguistic groups on that continent, and the socio-political and economic conditions that, over that time, led to the movements and interactions of people and their multiple language acquisition (not to mention discussions of drastically different educational policies and education funding models there as compared to here).
With all that out of the way, I guess it just comes down to whether or not you’ve downloaded Babbel to your phone. Coz it’s apparently all about individuals making smart choices.
Honestly, while some ads are witty or clever, I feel like I’m just a little bit dumber after others.
Watch the commercial here — at your own risk.