We don't value languages as highly as some of our European neighbours, unfortunately. Maybe the talent is there but the will isn't.
i think its because English is spoken in so many countries around the world that it makes the english reluctant to learn another language, i mean why, if everybody else speaks your tongue???
Seanus and Tornado, I think you are right, if there was more of a push in Brit schools to learn another language more people would take it on. I remember from High School (a while back ;) we had the choice of French or German. I think we got it twice a week. We started with a language in the late stages of Primary school but it wasn't a priority for the teachers and was only taught if there was a language teacher available to come to the school.
So yes, there does seem to be a hint of "everyone else speaks our language so why should we bother?"
As for Polish people not speaking English, that varies from person to person. I have a Polish friend who talks and talks and talks in English and speaks it very well (literally you can't make him stop talking) but a couple of other Polish people I know have poor English. Mostly though, the people in my Polish circle speak good, clear English but maybe don't understand "local" words.