New statistics were released last week in relation to EU countries’ foreign language skills promoting the ‘European Day of Languages’ being today, Saturday 26th September.
The European Commission gave a statement saying that their aim was to "alert the public to the importance of language learning, to promote the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe and to encourage lifelong language learning in and out of school."
Spain’s rankings were far from satisfactory, with statistics revealing only 53.4% of adults here speak a foreign language, ranking them third place from the top of the board for the number of adults in the country speaking NO language other than their own. Hungary held top position with a startling 74.8% only speaking their native tongue and Portugal being second place, where 51.3% only speak Portuguese.
The Commission’s statement also said "The EU recognised improving language learning in the EU as a key factor in the Lisbon strategy and the Barcelona European Council in 2002 set the objective of ensuring that all pupils study at least two foreign languages from an early age."
With this in mind it was shown that within the EU in 2007, 60% of students in Upper Secondary Schools studied a minimum of two foreign languages. In contrast, the figure was much lower for those having studied none, this being a mere 6%.
Other research showed that the countries achieving the highest proportions, with 100% of students studying two or more foreign languages at Upper Secondary level, were the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Finland.
They were followed by Slovenia and Slovakia who both achieved a percentage of 98% with students studying two or more foreign languages and Estonia with 97%.
Not too surprising is the fact that English was found to be the most common foreign language to be spoken in 14 out of the 21 EU member states. Data was apparently not available for the remaining six.