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Benefits of language learning

Europe highlights the need to encourage foreign language skills

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Businesses need staff who can speak the language of their customers. The Commission will underline this at a conference during the London Language Show next month.

The conference organised by the Commission at the London Language Show is aimed at strengthening awareness of the economic and social benefits of language learning. More than 10 000 people are expected to visit the show (Olympia Central, 18-20 October), which regularly attracts major business recruiters, SMEs and education specialists. 

60% European students learn a second foreign language 

In most European countries the teaching of one foreign language is compulsory from primary school level and the trend is increasing. More than 60% of all pupils across Europe start learning a second foreign language at lower secondary level and about the same percentage study two foreign languages at higher secondary level (GCSE equivalent). The 2012 European Survey on Language Competences, which tested more than 50 000 pupils aged 14-15 across Europe, found the proportion competent in their first foreign language ranged from 82% in Malta and Sweden (where English is the first foreign language) to only 14% in France (learning English) and 9% in England (learning French).

The European Commission has proposed a European benchmark which aims for at least 50% of all 15-year-olds in Europe to be ´independent users´ of one foreign language and that 75 % of all pupils should learn two foreign languages at lower secondary level.

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