Most studied foreign languages in lower secondary education in Europe

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more.

English is the most widely studied foreign language in all European countries (which should not be surprising) except Luxembourg, but what is the second most studied language? This is exactly what the following map (based on data by Eurostat) shows:

Most studied languages in lower secondary education

The two figures in Belgium correspond to the Dutch (Flemish) speaking part and the French-speaking part of Belgium, respectively. As you can see, virtually all Dutch-speaking pupils in Belgium learn French in basic education, whereas only every other French-speaking pupil learns Dutch.

In Luxembourg, French and German are both studied by all pupils in lower secondary education (most of whom are native speakers of Luxembourgish), followed by English, studied by 59% of pupils.

The map shows a few surprising facts. Spanish is more popular among pupils in Sweden and Norway than German (which is the third most commonly studied language there). Studying Danish (or, rarely, another Scandinavian language) is mandatory for Icelandic pupils. In Finland, both Finnish and Swedish are compulsory subjects in school, with the exception of children who speak neither of the two languages as their mother tongue. Learning a second foreign language seems to be rare in Austria, where less than 9% of pupils in lower secondary education study any language other than English.

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