English is most-studied foreign language in Europe – Eurostat

Written by on September 26, 2013 in Europe - No comments

English was the most-studied foreign language in the 28 member states of the European Union in 2011, the bloc’s statistics bureau Eurostat said on September 26, which is also the European Day of Languages.

A total of 83 per cent of pupils at primary and lower secondary level and 94 per cent of those in upper secondary level general programmes were studying English as a foreign language, according to Eurostat.

The second most commonly studied foreign language at both primary and lower secondary level and upper secondary level was French (19 per cent of pupils in primary and lower secondary level and 23 per cent in upper secondary), followed by German (nine per cent and 21 per cent, respectively) and Spanish (six per cent and 18 per cent, respectively).

At primary and lower secondary level, English ranked as the most studied in 23 EU member states – the only exceptions were Belgium and Ireland (French) and Luxembourg (German). Data for the Netherlands and UK was not available.

French was the second most studied in nine countries, German in eight, Russian in four (Bulgaria was one of them), Spanish in two, while Italian, Swedish and Dutch were the second most studied foreign language in one country each.

In upper secondary education, English remained the most commonly studied language, at over 90 per cent of pupils in all member states, except Bulgaria, Cyprus, Hungary, Malta and Portugal. In the UK and Ireland, the most studied foreign language was French, and German was the most studied language in Luxembourg.

The second most commonly studied language in upper secondary education was German in 10 member states (Bulgaria among them), French in nine, Spanish in four, Russian in three and Swedish and Italian in one each.

Among working age adults, defined as the population aged 25 to 64, English was declared to be the best-known foreign language in 2011. Of those stating English to be their best-known foreign language, 20 per cent responded that they spoke it at a proficient level, 35 per cent at a good level and 45 per cent at a fair level.

Considering all languages, 66 per cent of the total population aged 25-64 said they knew at least one foreign language (in Bulgaria’s case, that ratio was 39 per cent, with Hungary alone scoring lower at 37 per cent).

(Photo: sergis blog/flickr.com) 

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