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Figure 4 – Students able to read and write in a foreign language (first language = mother tongue), %

Figure 4 – Students able to read and write in a foreign language (first language = mother tongue), %

Students able to read and write in a foreign language (first language = mother tongue), %

The results of a 2012 poll suggest that the majority of Europeans (54 %) are able to hold a conversation in at least one additional language, a quarter (25 %) can speak at least two and one in ten (10 %) are conversant in at least three. The five most widely spoken foreign languages remain English (38 %), French (12 %), and German (11 %), followed by Spanish (7 %) and Russian (5 %). Two-thirds of Europeans (67 %) find that English is the most useful foreign language, followed by German (17 %), French (16 %), Spanish (14 %) and Chinese (6 %). The majority of Europeans do not describe themselves as active learners of languages and around a quarter (23 %) have never learnt a second language. The most widespread method used to learn a foreign language is through lessons at school. Over two-thirds of Europeans (68 %) have learnt a foreign language in this way. Interestingly, a 2018 survey shows that while 80 % of respondents (with wide differences among countries) can read and write in more than one language, only 66 % say they would be able to follow a (higher education) course in more than one language (see Figure 4).

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