The vast majority of Europeans (83%) believe that knowing foreign languages is or could be useful for them personally. In fact, over half (53%) of the respondents perceive language skills to be very useful.
9 out of 29 countries covered in the survey indicated that over half of EU Citizens can hold a conversation at least in two foreign languages.
56% of EU citizens are able to hold a conversation in a language other than their mother tongue and 28% state that they master two languages along with their native language.
73% of EU citizens indicate better job opportunities as the main reason for the young to gain knowledge of other languages other than their mother tongue.
Practically no one (0.4%) considers that it is not important for young people to acquire language skills. And, with regards English:
English is perceived by Europeans to be by far the most useful language to know (68%). French (25%) and German (22%) follow next (Spanish ranks fourth with 16%).
English remains the most widely-spoken foreign language throughout Europe. 38% of EU citizens state that they have sufficient skills in English to have a conversation.
77% of Europeans consider English to be the language that children should learn. Of course, such survey data can hide considerable variation between countries:
75% of respondents in the Netherlands report the same
44% of Europeans admit to not knowing any other language than their mother tongue.
67% of Turkish citizens report that they cannot speak another language than Turkish. Let's take a closer look at what Turkish citizens said in the same survey.
What do Turkish citizens say? From the Eurobarometer survey of 2006:
79% of Turkish citizens agreed with the statement that everyone in the EU should be able to speak one language in addition to their mother tongue
63% agreed with the statement that everyone in the EU should be able to speak two languages in addition to their mother tongue
33% are able to hold a conversation in a language other than their mother tongue (this was the lowest of all participating countries)
5% are able to speak at least 2 languages
only 1% are able to speak at least 3 languages
95% believe that knowing foreign languages is or could be useful for them personally
72% consider English to be the language that children should learn
When asked about the best age to start learning a first language apart from the mother tongue,71% said ages 6 to 12
9% report that they have improved their language skills at primary school
49% agreed with the statement language teaching should be a political priority The “count” on whether language should be a political priority is not as strong as the result in the last referendum (!) – but it tells us a lot. A few universities across Turkey have been trying to get their students to learn another foreign language (over and above English) - without much success! Perhaps, we'd have more success if we started kids off earlier.