QUICK QUIZ: What is the most widely spoken mother tongue in Europe?
The answer and other interesting facts are below thanks to the European Union’s Language Barometer report just released here. Also just released and of equal interest is the European Survey on Language Competences rating 16 EU countries in L2, L3 levels of competence in high school.
QUICK QUIZ 2: which European country performed best in L2 of English?
(feel free to guess in the comments)
and tip of the hat to Kate Bell who let me know about these reports!
15 fascinating stats!!!
1) In accordance with the EU population, the most widely spoken mother tongue is German (16%), followed by Italian and English (13% each), French(12%), then Spanish and Polish (8% each).
2) Just over half of Europeans (54%) are able to hold a conversation in at least one additional language, a quarter (25%) are able to speak at least two additional languages and one in ten (10%) are conversant in at least three.
3) 88% of Europeans think that knowing languages other than their mother tongue is very useful.
4) Two thirds of Europeans (67%) consider English as one of the two most useful languages for themselves.
5) Languages perceived as the most useful that come up right after are the following: German (17%), French (16%), Spanish (14%) and Chinese (6%).
6) 98% of Europeans consider mastering other foreign languages as useful for the future of their children.
7) There has been a decrease in the proportion thinking that French is important (-9 percentage points), and in those thinking German is an important language for personal development (-5 points). Europeans are more likely now than they were in 2005 to think that Chinese is an important language (+ 4 points).
Countries where respondents are least likely to be able to speak any foreign language are Hungary (65%), Italy (62%), the UK and Portugal (61% in each), and Ireland (60%).
9) The five most widely spoken foreign languages remain English (38%), French (12%), German (11%), Spanish (7%) and Russian (5%).
10) Just over two fifths (44%) of Europeans say that they are able to understand at least one foreign language well enough to be able to follow the news on radio or television. English is the most widely understood, with a quarter (25%) of Europeans able to follow radio or television news in the language. French and German are mentioned by 7% of respondents each, while Spanish(5%), Russian (3%) and Italian (2%).
11) 54% of Europeans able to speak foreign languages are likely to use them only occasionally (69%). A quarter (25%) use them every day or almost every day.
12) The most notable changes since 2005 are an increase in the proportion of Europeans who regularly use foreign languages on the internet (+10 percentage points) and when watching films/television or listening to the radio (+8 points). The proportion of Europeans who do not use a foreign language regularly in any situation has fallen from 13% in 2005 to 9% in 2012.
13) The majority of Europeans do not describe themselves as active learners of languages. Around a quarter (23%) of Europeans have never learnt a language, while just over two fifths (44%) have not learnt a language recently and do not intend to start.
14) The most widely mentioned barrier to learning another language is lack of motivation, with a third (34%) of Europeans saying this discourages them. Around a quarter of Europeans cite lack of time to study properly (28%) and that it is too expensive (25%). A fifth (19%) of Europeans say that not being good at languages discourages them.
15) The most widespread method used to learn a foreign language is through lessons at school. Just over two thirds of Europeans (68%) have learnt a foreign language in this way. Much smaller proportions of Europeans have learnt a foreign language by talking informally to a native speaker (16%), with a teacher outside school in group language lessons (15%), and by going on frequent or long trips to the country in which the language is spoken (15%). Europeans are most likely to think that school language lessons are the most effective way they have learnt a foreign language.
Interesting to note how important motivation is a challenge for learners. This is among the key reasons why all of us at Edulang have always imagined our products as tools for teachers to use with students, more so than raw tools for students, though we do have some very motivated individual learners on board, so there all always exceptions that prove the rule!
QUICK QUIZ 3: Which finding most most surprised you?