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Bijna 80 procent van Europese kinderen in het basisonderwijs leerden in 2008 een vreemde taal (en)

Met dank overgenomen van Eurostat (ESTAT), gepubliceerd op vrijdag 24 september 2010.

In the EU in 2008, 79% of pupils at primary level1 and 83% of those in upper secondary level general programmes1 were studying a foreign language. At both levels, English was the usual first foreign language. A second foreign language was studied by 10% of pupils at primary level and 39% at upper secondary level, with French and German the most common.

On the occasion of the European Day of Languages2, celebrated each year on 26 September, Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, publishes data3 on language learning of school pupils and perceived language skills of adults. The general objectives of this event are 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.

Almost all primary pupils study a foreign language in Luxembourg, Sweden, Italy and Spain

The highest shares of pupils in primary education studying a foreign language in 2008 were found in Luxembourg and Sweden (both 100%), Italy (99%) and Spain (98%), and the lowest in Ireland (3%), the Netherlands (32%) and Hungary (33%). The proportion of pupils in primary education studying a second foreign language was highest in Luxembourg (83%) and Greece (24%).

Almost all students in upper secondary education general programmes in the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden were studying a foreign language. The lowest shares of students studying a foreign language were found in the United Kingdom (32%) and Ireland (58%). More than 80% of students were studying a second foreign language in Finland (92%), the Netherlands (86%) and Romania (83%).

30% of adults in the EU declare themselves as being proficient or good in a foreign language

In the EU in 2007, when adults aged 25 to 64 were asked to assess their level of proficiency4 in their best known foreign language, only 13% declared themselves as being proficient, 16% as being good, 30% as having a fair or basic knowledge and 38% as having no knowledge of a foreign language.

The share considering themselves as being proficient4 varied significantly between Member States, with the highest shares in Latvia (55%), Slovenia (45%) and Slovakia (44%) and shares of less than 10% in France, Romania, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Bulgaria, the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic.

The proportion of those declaring themselves as being good4 was highest in Sweden (40%), Estonia and Slovenia (both 33%), Finland and Cyprus (both 32%). Shares of less than 10% were found in Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria.

The share of pupils studying a first and second foreign language, 2008

 
 

Primary

Upper secondary, general

 

1st language

2nd language

1st language

2nd language

 

%

 

%

 

%

 

%

 

EU*

79

-

10

-

83

-

39

-

Belgium

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

Bulgaria

70

English

8

Russian

87

English

37

Russian

Czech Republic

55

English

12

German

100

English

58

German

Denmark

67

English

-

-

92

English

35

German

Germany

56

English

4

French

91

English

27

French

Estonia

67

English

21

Estonian**

96

English

65

Russian

Ireland***

3

French

1

Spanish

58

French

17

German

Greece

93

English

24

French

95

English

8

French

Spain

98

English

5

French

94

English

27

French

France

:

:

:

:

99

English

64

Spanish

Italy

99

English

2

German

94

English

20

French

Cyprus

56

English

2

French

90

English

34

French

Latvia

67

English

12

Russian

97

English

51

Russian

Lithuania

64

English

-

-

88

English

39

Russian

Luxembourg****

100

German

83

French

:

:

:

:

Hungary

33

English

19

German

78

English

49

German

Malta

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

Netherlands

32

English

-

-

100

English

86

German

Austria

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

Poland

67

English

13

German

81

English

49

German

Portugal

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

:

Romania

41

English

18

French

96

English

83

French

Slovenia

44

English

2

German

97

English

72

German

Slovakia

45

English

5

German

98

English

69

German

Finland

68

English

5

Swedish

99

English

92

Swedish

Sweden

100

English

5

Spanish

100

English

42

Spanish

United Kingdom

69

French

19

Spanish

32

French

8

Spanish

Iceland

64

English

16

Danish

73

English

44

Danish

Norway

100

English

-

-

98

English

24

German

former Yug. Rep. of Macedonia

56

English

-

-

:

:

:

:

Source: Unesco/OECD/Eurostat data collection on education systems

  • EU average based on available Member States

** Estonian is counted as a foreign language when it is taught in a school where it is not the main teaching language.

*** All students in Ireland study Irish in primary and secondary schools. Irish and English are official languages in Ireland.

**** Although the official languages in Luxembourg are French, German and Letzeburgesch, for the purpose of education statistics, French and German are counted as foreign languages.

  • Data not available
  • Not applicable

Self-perceived skill levels4 in best known foreign language among adults aged 25-64, 2007 (%)

 
 

Proficient

Good

Fair / Basic

None known

Best known foreign language

EU*

13.3

15.9

29.6

38.3

English

Belgium

18.3

20.7

27.3

32.5

English

Bulgaria

6.5

8.7

40.7

44.1

English

Czech Republic

7.5

15.2

45.4

31.9

English

Denmark

:

:

:

:

:

Germany

21.3

16.9

33.3

28.6

English

Estonia

28.0

33.3

25.1

13.6

English

Ireland

:

:

:

:

:

Greece

10.5

18.7

25.7

43.4

English

Spain

15.6

14.2

23.2

46.6

English

France

5.1

13.8

26.6

41.2

English

Italy

6.0

15.0

34.6

38.6

English

Cyprus

26.2

32.0

27.2

14.6

English

Latvia

54.7

24.7

15.2

5.1

Russian

Lithuania

41.6

28.1

27.7

2.5

Russian

Luxembourg

:

:

:

:

:

Hungary

5.8

7.2

12.2

74.8

English

Malta

:

:

:

:

:

Netherlands

:

:

:

:

:

Austria

23.0

24.2

27.8

24.8

English

Poland

6.2

13.7

42.7

37.4

Russian

Portugal

10.1

16.2

22.4

51.3

English

Romania

5.2

4.9

14.3

75.0

English

Slovenia

45.4

32.7

14.2

7.7

English

Slovakia**

44.3

23.7

23.9

7.8

Czech

Finland

18.2

32.4

32.9

16.1

English

Sweden

39.3

39.8

15.8

5.1

English

United Kingdom

7.4

10.4

46.7

35.5

French

Norway

41.2

38.6

15.8

4.3

English

Croatia

14.5

18.1

33.9

32.1

English

Turkey

1.9

3.0

19.6

75.5

English

Source: Adult Education Survey

The rates might not add up to 100% due to "non response".

  • Data not available
  • EU average based on available Member States

** Slovakian not recorded as a foreign language in Czech survey whereas Czech is recorded as a foreign language in the Slovakian survey.

  • Primary education (International Standard Classification of Education level 1): Depending on the country, primary education begins at between 4 and 7 years of age and generally lasts 5 to 6 years. Programmes are designed to give pupils a sound basic education in reading, writing and mathematics along with an elementary understanding of other subjects.

Upper secondary education (International Standard Classification of Education level 3): Depending on the country, upper secondary education normally starts at 15 or 16 years of age, at the end of full-time compulsory education. General programmes: covers education that is not designed explicitly to prepare participants for a specific class of occupations or for entry into further vocational or technical educational programmes. Many programmes enable access to tertiary education.

  • Eurostat, Statistics in Focus, 49/2010, "More students study foreign languages in Europe but perceptions of skill levels differ significantly", available free of charge in pdf format on the Eurostat web site.
  • Proficient: Ability to understand and produce a wide range of demanding texts and use the language flexibly.

Good: Ability to describe experiences and events fairly fluently and able to produce a simple text.

Fair / Basic: Ability to understand and use the most common and every day expressions in relation to familiar things and situations.

 

Issued by: Eurostat Press Office

Louise CORSELLI-NORDBLAD

Tel: +352-4301-33 444

eurostat-pressoffice@ec.europa.eu

Eurostat news releases on the internet: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat

 

For further information about the data:

Lene MEJER

Tel: +352-4301-35 423

lene.mejer@ec.europa.eu

Paolo TURCHETTI

Tel: +352-4301-30 113

paolo.turchetti@ec.europa.eu

Sadiq Kwesi BOATENG

Tel: +352-4301-31 530

sadiq-kwesi.boateng@ec.europa.eu

mailto:sadiq-kwesi.boateng@ec.europa.eu


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