Due to next Saturday's celebration of the European Language Day, Eurostat has released a report with data collected in 2007 about the perception that adults have on their linguistic competence and on language learning throughout their secondary education within the twenty-seven countries.
In the 21 countries with available information -all of them member countries except Rumania, Malta, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Ireland & Denmark- the percentage of citizens that admit that they don't know any foreign language appears to be the 36,2%.
But in Spain, this number goes up to a 46,6%, only exceeded by Portugal, with 51,3% & Hungary, with 74,8%.
In relation to the people who think they have a good command of a foreign language, the European community average is set on 35,7%, a percentage quite similar to Spain's rate at 35,5%.
When it's the case of two or more foreign languages, the European average goes down to 28,1%, a fall which is much more pronounced for Spain, where this percentage is 17,9%.
Citizens from Scandinavian, Baltic countries or Slovenia are the ones who seem to master more foreign languages when compared to the rest of Europeans.
On foreign language acquisition during secondary education, Spain is distinguished by the high number of students that only study one language in this period (the double of the EU average) and the lower number of teenagers that study at least two languages, compared to other countries.
That means, that while in countries such as France, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Finland, Estonia, Rumania, Sweden, Slovakia or Slovenia more than 90% of their students learn two foreign languages in secondary education, this number drastically goes down to 28,3% in Spain.
However, this percentage drops even more in the United Kingdom with 6,1% or in Greece, 6,9%
English is the most studied language by overwhelming majority, while in Ireland & the United Kingdom youngsters usually learn French.
These two English-speaking countries are actually the ones with the highest number of students that in secondary education don't study another language (51,4% in the United Kingdom & 18,8% in Ireland). These percentages are outstandingly higher than the rest of European countries.
In fact, Spain is the country with the highest percentage after the former two, with 3,9% of secondary education students that don't work with any foreign language.