Polyglot or ‘polynot’: a look at language skills across the EU

Luxembourgers are the multilingual champions of the EU while the Irish, Bulgarians, Austrians and Hungarians are among the worst, latest official data has revealed.


All students at lower secondary school level in landlocked Luxembourg are learning two or more ‘foreign’ languages, according to Eurostat figures.

Four-fifths or more of language pupils at the same level in Ireland, Bulgaria, Austria and Hungary are studying just one additional tongue.

No figures were available for the United Kingdom, which has been accused in the past of failing to produce enough people with foreign language skills.

Other trends to emerge include:

89.7 percent of lower secondary level pupils in Ireland learn a foreign language, the lowest in the EU.
All students at this grade in Denmark, Greece, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovenia and Sweden learn at least one foreign language.
Belgium and Luxembourg are the only countries in the EU where English is not the most common ‘foreign’ language studied.
English is the most common foreign language, followed by French, German and Spanish.
Russian is the only non-EU language to make the list of commonly-studied second foreign languages.

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