I am French and was very lame in English at school.
I really learnt English reading Sun Microsystems manuals 15 years ago
which were mostly unadultered BSD manuals at this time.
Jokes were still there like "you can tune a file system but you
can't tuna fish
". I learnt Perl soon after. Having read Unix manuals in
English just before made the task far easier.
There was no documentation in French, and the Perl documentation assumed knowledge of Unix.
The first time I went to the states, to a technical meeting at Palm Spring, I could talk about computers but had a lot of trouble to ask my way to the toilets. For the toilets, spanish could have been helpful (employees are often mexican in south of Weat Coast hostels) but I don't speak it.
Come to YAPC::Europe 2003 in Paris, 23-25 July 2003.