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Foreign language competences still need to be improved

Mis à jour : 22 Jui 2012

Today, 21 June 2012, Commissioner Mrs Androulla Vassiliou announces the results of the first European Survey on Language Competences.

The survey was carried out in spring 2011 and provides comparable data about foreign language competences across 14 European countries. In each participating country the assessment measured reading, listening and writing abilities in two out of the five most widely taught official languages of the EU: English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Altogether, almost 54,000 pupils aged 14-15 years were tested.

Overall, the results show that there is still scope for improvement. Only 42% of tested pupils were found to be competent in the tested first foreign language and just 25% in the second. Moreover, a large number of pupils did not achieve the level of a basic user: 14% for the first and 20% for the second foreign language.

The survey also highlights that there is a wide range of ability across the participating countries. For first foreign language, the proportion of pupils attaining the level of independent user varies from 82% in Malta and Sweden (English) to 14% in France (English) and 9% in England (French). For the second foreign language, the level of independent user is reached by 4% in Sweden (Spanish) and 6% in Poland (German) compared to 48% in the Netherlands (German).

The European Commission wants to step up support for language learning and will propose a European benchmark on language competences by the end of 2012.

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