This report provides a complete picture of foreign languages in foreign countries of the European Union, combining statistical data and qualitative information describing the language skills of Europeans, the foreign languages known, first foreign language, second foreign language, other foreign languages, perception of foreign languages, opinions of parents, learning foreign languages and benefits. In addition, the report contains several charts useful to identify the correct language information. This information has been obtained from various sources, including Eurostat, the European survey on language skills (European Survey on Language Competences - ESLC).
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In addition to their mother tongue, the Europeans know the following languages in order of popularity:
* English 41%
* French 19%
* German 10%
* Spanish 7%
* Italian 3%
* Swedish 1%
* Dutch 1%
First foreign language
47% of respondents do not speak any foreign languages.
The first foreign language in Europe is English, with 32% of people claiming to speak it as a first language.
English is the first foreign language in Denmark, Germany, Greece, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Finland and Sweden.
The second foreign language in Europe is French.
In the UK, Ireland and Luxembourg French is the first foreign language.
In Spain, Italy, Portugal and the UK more than 15% of respondents know French as a first language.
In third place there is German (4%) and in fourth Spanish (1.5%)
Other foreign languages
26% of respondents speak a second foreign language:
8% of respondents also knows a third foreign language, while only 2% knows a fourth.
The following tables show the percentage of respondents with knowledge of these languages.
Perception of the usefulness of foreign language skills
Both among those who know other languages is among those who speak only their mother tongue, the majority tends to consider that knowing foreign languages is, or would be useful (72% said 'very' or 'fairly' useful). 22%, however, considers foreign languages not very useful or useless.
The better learning of foreign languages are the Danes, Greeks and Luxembourg (over 90% consider it 'fairly useful' or very useful '), followed by Sweden and Finland (more than 88% are' fairly useful 'or' very useful '). The less favourable to the learning of other languages are respondents in Austria, Ireland and Germany (over 30% considers this 'not very useful' or 'totally useless').
64% of people with no language skills believe that learning other languages would not offer them better job prospects.
Young people are more likely to feel it is worthwhile knowledge of foreign languages: 87% of the age group 15-24 years, compared with 57% of the age group over 55 years (average 72%). People with a longer education also tend to appreciate more the knowledge of foreign languages.
Opinions of parents
93% of parents of children aged under 20 believe in the importance...