Residents of the European Union (EU) are becoming better and better at languages. Almost 50 percent of the EU population say they can speak at least one foreign language very well. That figure rises to nearly 80 percent for students. To celebrate its linguistic diversity, September 26 has become the official European Day of Languages. The day’s website shows a Slovak proverb that says: “The number of languages you speak is the number of times you are human”. This is to encourage all Europeans to brush up on their language skills.
The results of the “Eurobarometer” survey put Luxembourgers at the top of the language ability list. An amazing 99 percent of Luxembourg’s population is at least bilingual. Those with the poorest language skills are the Hungarians (29 percent) and British (30 percent). English is the most widely spoken foreign language, used by more than a third of the population. German (12 percent) is in second place followed by French (11 percent). European enlargement means Russian has risen to fourth place tied with Spanish. The EU spends $36 million a year on language programs.