According to Eurostat, two thirds of working age adults in the EU28 stated that they knew at least one foreign language in 2011. 83 percent of pupils at primary and lower secondary level and 94 percent of those in upper secondary level general programmes were studying English.
An impressive 99 percent of Luxembourgers stated that they knew at least one foreign language, primarily German, thanks to the country’s trilingual education system and frontiers with France, Belgium and Germany. Even though French, German and Luxembourgish are the country’s official languages, French and German are counted as foreign languages for the purpose of education statistics.
Lithuania and Latvia came second and third where 97 and 95 percent of the population stated that they know at least one foreign language respectively. Russian is widely spoken throughout the Baltic states – 80 percent of Lithuanians can speak Russian according to a Eurobarometer survey conducted in 2005.
Among other reasons, the sheer complexity of the European linguistic landscape means that data is not available for all countries. In Belgium, French is considered a foreign language in the Flemish community and Dutch is considered a foreign language in the French community. In Ireland for example, Irish is studied at primary and secondary schools – Irish and English are the official languages in the country.