This is an interesting bit of info, that I found out about via Marginal Revolution, on the languages that the 2008 presidential candidates speak (in short, very few). After perusing the list, it got me thinking - if these "top dogs" in the United States can be so (relatively) successful by basically speaking only 1 language... what does this mean for younger generations?
Namely, I started thinking about my own language capabilities. I am fluent in English (or so I would like to think) and Spanish; I speak very limited French; I'm learning Mandarin (so far I can only count, so progress is slow). I grew up in a family where learning (and learning languages and cultures) was considered very important - what about you? And do you think it's important now? Personally I think learning at least Spanish is important if you're going to live in the United States for most of your life; if you're planning on doing business around the world, it doesn't hurt that over 20% of the world's population speaks Mandarin.
Another thought - maybe so few people in the US learn a second language because English is such a global language. But what if English loses its prominence (hard to fathom, but nothing is unlikely)?