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Brits and Hungarians are the worst in Europe at foreign languages

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posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 09:09 AM
A new report says that Britons and Hungarians are the worst in Europe when it comes to speaking more than one language. Luxembourg, Latvia and Malta top the list of those who speak more than one language.


"Not surprisingly, the best language skills are found in relatively small member states with not widely-spoken national languages," said the study by the Eurobarometer data agency.

At the top of the class comes Luxembourg, where 99 percent of the tiny duchy's population speaks a foreign language, followed by 93 percent of Latvians and Maltese who can converse in another tongue.

Further down come the Dutch on 91 percent, Lithuanians on 91 percent and Slovenia on 89 percent.

And at the bottom of the linguistic league come Hungarians, only 29 percent of whom can speak another language, followed closely by 30 percent of Britons able to converse in another tongue.

Just above them come the Portuguese, Italians and Spanish, 36 percent of whom speak something other than their mother tongue, followed by the Irish on 41 percent and French on 45 percent.

EU education commissioner Jan Figel hailed the finding that younger people speak more foreign languages: 69 percent of 15-24 year-olds can converse in another tongue, compared to 35 percent of those over the age of 55.

In my opinion thirty percent actually isn't that bad.
I was more surprised at the extremely high numbers in countries like the Netherlands rather than the lower numbers in countries like Britain.

Does any one know of a global list where I can see what the numbers are like in the US, Japan, China, etc..?

posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 07:20 PM
My two cents:

I have heard that Hungarian is one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn, because it is so much different from many other languages. Perhaps this is why they have lower second language rates; they simply find it more difficult because of the nature of their first language.

It's kind of like something my Chinese friend told me, how it is almost impossible for a native Chinese speaker to learn German because of the fundamental differences in the structure of the two languages. Maybe it's something like that for the Hungarians on a greater scale? As for the Brits, they're probably just lazy and don't bother learning other languages, like Americans or Canadians, most of whom only know English unless they are immigrants or studied a language in school.

posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 07:22 PM
Dutch kids start learning foreign languages immediately from TV then later in school -- almost all of them are completely fluent in English and German as well as Dutch.

posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 07:27 PM

Originally posted by DragonsDemesne
As for the Brits, they're probably just lazy and don't bother learning other languages, like Americans or Canadians, most of whom only know English unless they are immigrants or studied a language in school.


ok maybe i should start trying to learn espanol. thanks for the jaw dropping honesty lol

posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 09:47 PM
Hehe, I hope I didn't offend every single Brit, Canadian, and American on the planet with that sentence, but as a Canadian myself, I've seen it here. Virtually no one can speak more than one language unless they are an immigrant or took classes in school. I have a weak ability at french, which I took from grade 4 to grade 10, but other than that I can't speak a foreign language. Most native English speakers around here don't even have that.

A lot of foreign countries have either mandatory English classes or at least the opportunity to take English at a young age. A colleague of mine from the Phillippines had to take mandatory English in grade school. I know that in countries like India and Japan, English is taught in the school system, but I'm not sure if it's mandatory.

posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 10:08 PM
That's a very good article, yet I do tech support for the company I work for, and so far, the Swedish and the Norwegian have to have the best multilanguage culture I've seen so far. I haven't talked to a single person of either country who didn't know at least two to three languages.

the french might be the worst though, I have yet to meet a rural frenchman who knows more than hello in any other language.

But hey, i've never been overseas, so my knowledge is limited to 20 hrs a week on the phone,

posted on Sep, 28 2005 @ 12:47 AM
Why would Brits bother to learn a foreign language, the way they speak north of Hadiran's Wall and south of the Thames might as well be foreign languages!

Every corner of the globe has English speakers in it, not terribly good ones, but they are there, so why learn a foreign language when they're all learning ours and want to practise (inflict?) their English on us?

My German is terrible and if I wasn't married to a foreigner I probably wouldn't be learning a third language (and I'm neither a Brit nor European).

I agree about the Scandinavians, firstly they can speak each other's languages, then many can speak English and German as well.

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