On 26 September, Europe celebrated its European Day of Languages where the European Commission is publishing the results of a Eurobarometer survey which was conducted last June and which focuses on knowledge of languages among European citizens.
Results of the survey include the following:
50% of the European population say they can speak a foreign language The results vary considerably from one country to another: 29% of the Hungarian population, 30% of the British and 36% of the Portuguese, Italian and Spanish populations say they can master a foreign language, whereas 99% of the Luxembourgish population is at least bilingual;
English is known as a second language by one third of the EU population. It is followed by German (12%), which has slightly overtaken French (11%) as the second most spoken foreign language in the EU due to the fact that it is widely used in the countries which joined the EU last year; the 2004 enlargement has lifted Russian to the fourth place tied with Spanish - in the list of the most widely spoken foreign languages in the EU;
From an occupational point of view, students are the most likely to speak a foreign language: almost 8 out of 10 students can use at least one foreign language.