Why are most Europeans multilingual?
Multilingualism - the modern European speaks 1 + 2
More than 60 languages are spoken in Europe. However, almost half of Europeans only speak one language - their mother tongue. The EU wants to change that.
Diversity is a central element of European identity. The EU is home to 450 million people from different ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. What can a language concept look like in modern Europe?
Understand other cultures
In the age of globalization, multilingualism is becoming more and more important. Language skills make it easier to work, study and travel in other countries. Language is more than just communication. Language is the way to understand other cultures. The European education ministers therefore find that it is not enough just to learn English as a foreign language. Multilingualism is the basis for a successful European community.
The EU language policy
In March 2002 the European Council in the Spanish city of Barcelona decided to promote multilingualism among EU citizens. Every child in the EU should learn two foreign languages from an early age. In future, every EU citizen should be able to speak at least three languages: their mother tongue and two other languages (1 + 2).
Europeans and foreign languages today
A survey in the EU shows that 56 percent of EU citizens can converse in a language other than their mother tongue. 28 percent of the respondents said that they can have a good conversation in two foreign languages. Eleven percent of EU citizens even speak three or more foreign languages. But 44 percent of EU citizens do not speak any other language besides their mother tongue.
A large majority (83 percent) of Europeans think that foreign languages are important. Europeans are motivated and want to learn foreign languages. They think languages are useful for work. Most Europeans want to learn "economically important" languages, especially English, German, Spanish and Russian. Language experts advise against choosing the language based on professional benefits. The most important prerequisite for successful language learning is an emotional bond.
from vitamin de, No. 48, spring 2011
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