German overtakes French in EU popularity stakes

23rd September 2005, Comments 0 comments

23 September 2005, BRUSSELS - The European Union's eastward expansion has boosted the popularity of German which is now spoken by more people than French in the 25-nation bloc, a European Commission survey said Friday.

23 September 2005

BRUSSELS - The European Union's eastward expansion has boosted the popularity of German which is now spoken by more people than French in the 25-nation bloc, a European Commission survey said Friday.

The Eurobarometer survey of young people (15 years and over), showed that English still reigned supreme as everyone's favourite second language, with one-third of all E.U. citizens (34 per cent) saying they could speak it.

A total of 12 per cent of the interviewees said they could speak German as a second language, compared to 11 per cent who said their second language was French.

E.U.'s eastern enlargement has also made Russian more popular. The language is now in fourth place - tying with Spanish - in the Eurobarometer ranking of the E.U.'s most widely spoken foreign languages.

"In tomorrow's Europe, speaking foreign languages is not just a hobby, it's a necessity," E.U. Commissioner for Education and Culture Jan Figel told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

"Languages are also important to preserve one's identity," Figel added.

Half of the E.U.'s population can communicate in at least one other language than their native tongue, the survey said. The percentage of people speaking a foreign language was as high 90 per cent in the Scandinavian countries and in Baltic member states.

In contrast, 71 per cent of Hungarians and 70 per cent of English can only speak their mother tongue.

The E.U. will be celebrating its linguistic diversity on a so- called 'European Day of Languages' on September 26.

Half of all pupils at primary schools in the E.U. learn at least one foreign language, and curricula in most member states include a minimum of two foreign languages during compulsory education.

DPA

Subject: German news

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