The European Commission released a study into languages this week which showed that 98% of parents think that knowing an additional language would be useful for their children . The study was carried out in 14 countries of the EU which included Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, England, Estonia, France, Greece, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
Almost 9/10 EU citizens believe that the ability to speak another language, separate to their mother tongue, is useful. However the report highlights a skill gap between these aspirations and reality as tests carried out across the EU showed that only 42% of EU citizens are competent in a second language and 25% in a third. It also highlighted the difference between countries, for example in Malta and Sweden 82% are competent in their second language whereas in France only 14% were competent in a second language and a staggeringly low 9% in England.
Austria has seen a considerable improvement in the amount of citizens able to speak a second language with a 16% increase since 2005 to 78% along with Finland showing 6% growth to 75%. However Slovakia has seen a noticeable decline according to the European Commission survey down 17% to 80% competency (Still an awful lot better than a lot of countries) as well as Hungary down 7% to 35%.
There are signs of improvement around the EU as governments across Europe are highlighting the importance of learning a language through their schooling systems; there are also signs of improvement technologically as the number of Europeans who regularly use foreign languages on the internet increased 10% from 26% to 36% since 2005.
The report highlights that the most widely spoken second languages remain English, French, German, Spanish and Russian.
More than half of those surveyed use languages at work, with 45% believing they got a better job in their own country thanks to their foreign language skills. Do you believe that knowing a second language has helped you at some point in your career?