We Americans are, as a rule, terrible language students. But dont worry, this isnt another criticism of the good ole USA. The truth is, language education in America sucks. But it also sucks in Korea, Japan, Thailand, and most countries of the world. In these other countries, the students plod along anyway because they must. Many need English in order to get into a university or to get a job.
But Americans dont have the same compelling need for another language. We can do quite well with English only. Many of us would love to learn another language... but after a couple of years of painful language classes, most of us give up.
What a shame... and so unnecessary. If different methods were used, we would learn more effectively and would generally enjoy the process. We wouldnt study grammar rules. We wouldnt memorize vocabulary lists. We wouldnt translate.
We would learn through actions, stories, games, movies, and pleasure reading. We would, through these means, acquire authentic and useful language and be able to use and understand it.
Its simply not fair to blame American (or other) students for the vast foreign language failure. It is the schools and teachers who are at fault.