Yes, we could go and learn all the other languages. But we tackled it in another way. The purpose of language is communication, and for good interchange we need to have a common language. So we realised that by teaching everyone English it would be possible for everyone to talk to each other. I've been able to sit eating tapas in Madrid while listening to French, Germans, Italians, Swiss, Danes, Norwegians, Czech, Belgians, Dutch, Irish, Scots, Welsh and some English all talking together in English. They couldn't have done it in any other language.
Obviously you can speak English and communicate with us as well with most other foreign nationals as they all will speak English as a second language. It is also the common language of the Internet and most importantly - We Britsih as a lazy lot of ********.
Who gives a damn about empires! The main reason is the other peoples learn english at school, because most global business is conducted in english, air traffic control, computers (mainly) and a bunch of other things. Admitted the most widely spoken language in the world is Spanish! But not the business world! Plus of course without English speaking tourists in Spain, the economy of the southern coasts would collapse! I speak two foriegn languages for work, both northern european! how many do I need to learn as a cruising yachtsman? It is nice to be able to order a beer or say thankyou and please in the country you are in, but there is a limit!