Education: Only half of Luxembourg secondary students learned English, compared to more than 90% across the EU, a survey has revealed. Meanwhile, more than a third of secondary students in the EU studied French and one in five take German, while the number learning Spanish rose by two-thirds between 2005 and 2012.
English has solidified its position as the most commonly studied foreign language in European secondary schools, although Luxembourg and Belgium have far and away the lowest such rates, according to a new report from the EU’s official statistics bureau.
Across the EU28 the language of Shakespeare was studied by 97% of secondary students in 2012, up from 90% in 2005. The more recent figure included 100% of pupils in Denmark, Germany, Malta and Sweden (and in Norway, which is outside the EU), Eurostat said on Thursday.
It was 99% in Finland, 98% in France and 96% in the Netherlands. The third lowest rate (86%) was recorded in Bulgaria.
That figure dropped to 54% in the Grand Duchy and 45% in Belgium. The agency noted that, for educationstatistics purposes, French and German were considered foreign languages in Luxembourg (with 100% study rates in state schools), and that French was considered a foreign language in Flanders and Dutch was in Wallonia.
Indeed, French was the second most popular foreign language studied in 2012. The rate was 34% across the EU, with high rates recorded in Flanders (99%), Romania (85%), Italy (70%), Ireland (64%), Netherlands (58%) and Portugal (57%). The figure was 25% in Germany.
German was studied by 22% of secondary students in the EU, and was most popular in Denmark (74%), Poland (69%), Slovakia (50%), Croatia (42%) and the Czech Republic (32%).
The number of students who studied Spanish across the entire EU jumped from 7% in 2005 to 12% in 2012. The largest numbers were booked in Sweden (42%), France (36%), Portugal (22%), Italy (21%) and Ireland (14%).
The study covered the four languages taken in “lower secondary education” meaning during compulsory secondary schooling. Figures were not published for the UK (“data not available”, the agency noted).