The European Day of Languages, aimed at promoting plurilingualism and encouraging intercultural understanding, has been celebrated since 2001. But what is the real situation?
The answer is provided by Eurobarometer special survey conducted in 2012 on a sample of 27000 people, who were interviewed in their mother tongue (Previous Eurobarometer surveys regarding languages were conducted in 2001 and in 2005).
According to the survey, the most widely spoken mother tongue is German (16%), followed by Italian and English (13% each), by French (12%) and by Spanish and Polish (8% each). The five most widely spoken foreign languages are, instead, English (38%), French (12%), German (11%), Spanish (7%) and Russian (5%).
At national level English is the most widely spoken foreign language in 19 out of the 25 states where it is not the official language (i. e. except the United Kingdom and Ireland)