We all want so badly to be a better version of who we are–which usually amounts to sitting at a bar drinking too much and wishing your life away as you dwell on all the things that could have been if you’d only done such and such or had this and this resource. And one of those qualities that tends to make one a so-called “better person” is being able to speak another language–particularly in the eyes of an employer.
Barring the natural ability everyone in the U.S. should have to speak Spanish, a boss in the vaguely business-oriented world of corporate tends also to be impressed by an office worker’s “proficiency” in Japanese or Chinese. Arabic, not so much. You might be a terrorist. But it’s not your fault that you’re an American with no proper training in a second language. So you do what most Americans do under any circumstance: lie. Fib, really, by saying you’re “proficient” in something you’ll never actually have to use, like French or Italian. Until you do, only to blatantly display your bizarre melding of English and anything you learned from foreign movies of the Criterion Collection. But then, has anyone ever really gotten fired for overtly exhibiting incompetence?