In today’s European Union countries, bearing in mind the large language diversity in schools, there is a need to analyse different aspects of the second language being taught to these pupils. The teaching of a foreign language is mostly influenced by demand, by the level of teacher qualification, by whether the teaching resources are sufficient, by the strength of motivation that is implemented and by exposure to foreign languages.
Why learn a foreign language
According to the report entitled “Key Data on Teaching Languages at School in Europe 2012”, the study of languages starts for most children between the ages of 6 and 9. In the last 15 years, most countries have reduced the starting age when pupils begin learning a foreign language to the pre-school age range.
This report confirms that English is the most taught language in all countries across Europe
English is a mandatory language in 14 countries mostly because
- The increase in pupils learning this language started since 2004/05, at all educational levels, particularly the primary level.
- In 2009/10, pupils enrolled in primary education who were learning English reached 73%. The percentage was higher than 90% of those enrolled in lower secondary and general upper secondary education.
German and French
Those are the languages that compete for second place as the most taught language in the EU countries. That’s because:
- German is most popular in some central and eastern European countries
- French is mostly taught in southern Europe.
Spanish is the third most-taught language, especially at upper secondary level. The same goes for Italian but in a smaller number of countries.
Russian is the second most taught foreign language in Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria, where large communities of Russian speakers live.
English is the most-taught language
The percentage of those learning languages other than English, German, French, Spanish, Italian or Russian was below 5% in 2009/10.
Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner responsible for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, mentioned that she encourages young people not to limit themselves to only the most popular languages. By doing this, they will be able to appreciate the true linguistic diversity of Europe.
The linguistic and cultural diversity in the European Union is its ‘strong card’ considering that learning a foreign language builds bridges of communication between countries and people, and creates opportunities.
The importance of language learning will be the main topic at the “Multilingualism in Europe” Conference which will be held at Limassol, in Cyprus, on 26-28 September, where Commissioner Vassiliou will give the opening speech.
English remains the best option for a second language throughout the European Union and although German, French or Spanish are also in high demand, English is still on top in preferences. This is especially true since the Internet has reached at a global level and English is the most used language on the internet. Immigration brought a new life to language learning and people who are looking to immigrate are directing their children into learning English, while certified translation requests have seen a 140% increase over the last few years.
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