Estonia tops language list

  • 2009-10-05
  • TBT Staff
TALLINN- Estonia is one of theEuropean Union member states having the largest percentage of residents whospeak at least two foreign languages according to a new report by the EUstatistical office Eurostat.

Of Estonian residents of ages 25-64, 55.9 percent said they spoke two or moreforeign languages. By this criterion Estonia ranks fifth among EU nations.

About 30.4% of residents in Estonia speak one foreign language, while 13.6%speak no second language, shows the study published on the occasion of theEuropean Day of Languages celebrated on 26 September.

The list was topped by Slovenia, where 71.8 percent ofresidents said they spoke at least two foreign languages, followed by Slovakiawith 68 percent, Finland with 67.9 percent and Lithuania with 66.1 percent.Latvia was in sixth place after Estonia with 54.9 percent.

According to the survey, English is the most commonly spoken foreign languagein two-thirds of EU member states. Russian is the most widespread foreignlanguage in the three Baltic countries, Poland and Bulgaria. Of thesecountries, Lithuania has the highest ratio of speakers of Russian as foreignlanguage.

In the UK the most common second language is French, and in Slovakia, the Czechlanguage.
The poorest command of foreign languages was reported in Hungary 's three infour Hungarians said they spoke no foreign language at all. The percentage ofsuch people was 51 in Portugal, 47 in Spain, 44 in Bulgaria and 43 in Greece.The survey was based on data for 2007.