What are the most studied languages ​​in the EU? – Products News from Eurostat

The majority of pupils in primary and secondary education in the EU study at least one foreign language: in 2020, 96.1% of pupils in primary education, 98.4% of pupils in lower secondary education and 90 .3% of upper secondary pupils in the EU have studied at least one foreign language. a foreign language.

In 2020, 60% of pupils in general upper secondary education (ISCED level 34) in the EU studied two or more foreign languages ​​as compulsory subjects or compulsory curriculum options, i.e. 1 percentage point (pp) more than in 2019. In upper secondary vocational education (ISCED level 35), this share was 35%, also 1 pp higher than in 2019.

In Luxembourg and France, all pupils in general upper secondary education have studied at least two foreign languages. Romania, Finland and Czechia also recorded a high share of students studying two or more languages ​​(all 99%). These Member States were closely followed by Slovakia and Estonia (98% each), Slovenia (96%) and Croatia (94%).

Source dataset: educ_uoe_lang02

Regarding upper secondary vocational education, Romania was the only Member State where almost all pupils (97%) studied two or more foreign languages ​​in 2020. Finland (89%) followed, followed by Luxembourg and Poland (77% each). Next.

Data are also available on the percentages of pupils who study no foreign language, one foreign language or several foreign languages ​​and for primary and lower secondary education levels.

English leads in general and vocational upper secondary education

In 2020, English was the most studied foreign language at general and vocational upper secondary education level in the EU, with 96% and 79% of pupils respectively learning it.

In terms of general education, Spanish comes second (27%), followed by French (22%), German (21%) and Italian (3%). In addition, Russian was the most commonly learned non-Community language in the EU (3%), particularly in Estonia (67%) and Latvia (57%), followed by Lithuania (30%) and Bulgaria (24%).

In vocational education, German comes second (18%), followed by French (17%), Spanish (7%) and Russian (2%). In this case, Russian was learned in Latvia (44%), Bulgaria (25%) and Cyprus (16%).

Bar chart: most common foreign language studies by EU students (% of students in general and vocational upper secondary education, 2020)

Source dataset: educ_uoe_lang01

For more information:

Methodological notes:

  • Only foreign languages ​​studied as compulsory subjects or as compulsory options of the program are included; the study of languages ​​when the subject is offered in addition to the minimum program are excluded.
  • Data refer to all modern modern spoken languages ​​that are taught as foreign languages. The learning of classical languages ​​such as ancient Greek and Latin is not included although they are the source of many modern languages ​​and can therefore facilitate language learning in general.
  • Belgium: The official state languages ​​are Dutch, French and German. Luxembourg: The official state languages ​​are French, German and Luxembourgish, but for the purposes of education statistics, French and German are counted as foreign languages. Finland: Depending on their mother tongue, students must choose between Finnish and Swedish, both of which are considered foreign languages ​​for the purposes of education statistics.
  • Relevant up-to-date information on joint UIS (UNESCO Institute for Statistics)/OECD/Eurostat (UOE) data collection and quality reports compiled at country level can be found in the administrative metadata file on the education. The quality reports include an appendix on language learning arrangements.

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