Oh boy...did I miss something? Anyways...
I had lived in SE Asia some time ago. Despite the country having a good number of English-speaking citizens, I noticed that as you went further away from the major urban centres: English was spoken with less frequency and ease, if at all in some locations.
'Time to do something' I thought to myself. So, I started to learn Tagalog [the main language (not the only one) of the Philippines].
It was hilarious at times, because your thinking still structures sentence usage in English. Sometimes I thought everything was spoken in some sort of backwards fashion. But in reality, many languages do not function as does English.
OK. So, many months go by, and I begin to get pretty damn good at speaking Tagalog. I was able to ask for things, directions, 'how much', and eavesdrop on conversations. I did take a bit of training here in Canada before I left, but it is when I arrived there that I got a crash course. It was enlightening, and my experience was all that more enhanced by learning the basics.
Now, living in Canada, many of you know, the province just to the east of Ontario is: Quebec. It is predominantly French speaking (not exactly like France French). Again, for many many years, many Anglophone (English speaking) Quebecers would NOT speak French, nor learn it. Nevermind that the entire province is predominantly French. I think the animosity at times directed towards the English, was a result of English-speaking Quebecers continually not bothering to speak French when it was purely evident: you're in Quebec. (not talking tourists here). Even myself, if I'm in Quebec, I make a good attempt at speaking French, and trust me, I have had NO negative looks for doing so, just pleasant smiles and some thumbs up.
As for newcomers, yes...it's an on-going dilemma. But for the most part, I have seen many new immigrants doing their damnest to learn the language of their newly adopted country. It makes for an easier life for them, and to their on-going benefit. I am always encouraged by their enthusiasm to 'get it right'.
I have seen people in banks, post offices, who cannot communicate more than a couple of words in English. You'd think, that they would 'get it; that no one speaks their exotic language within a 10,000 mile radius. It's annoying and frustrating. The smart ones who are new and still do not have a grasp of the local language, at least have a translator on-hand which is wise and makes for smooth transactions and less chance of error.
When I visited another country in SE Asia, I had to go to a bank. I knew full well I could not speak the language. I knew a few words, but I made it a point to have a billingual person with me who could assist me with both English and Thai. I did learn a few sentences while there, and I would greet people appropriately (clasping of two hands together: Sawasdi Kup). Those little gestures would grant you respect and many affirmative smiles. I would say please/thank you in their language, and honestly, they appreciated it immensely.
For many refugees and those fleeing due to some unforseen crisis abroad, I totally cut them some slack.
My good friend, he has a nephew who moved to Canada in September 2002. He continually encourages him to take up ESL; watch local news (not action movies); mix with local Canadians of every extraction and speak English around the house. I applaud my friend because he knows it's essential and imperative to speak English here. His nephew, in already 6 months, has made incredible gains in speaking English. I'm so proud of him.
When I do travel abroad, I make it a point to at least learn the basics. If you know how to say: Please; Thank You; You're Welcome, you're on the right track.
I think it's the proper and wise thing to do when travelling or living in a country that speaks another language other than English. People respect you so much more when you do that. It'd be the same for those who are new to their adopted country, but of course, this will take some time, so when possible, please be patient and forgiving.