France: Only 14 per cent of French high school students can speak English to an adequate level
England and France trail behind Europe in foreign languages
Around 40 per cent of European teenagers can speak a second language and a quarter can speak a third to a conversational standard. France and England are well and truly at the bottom of the pile, with only 14 per cent and nine per cent respectively of high school students able to communicate in a foreign language.
"Nine out of ten Europeans says that having another language is useful and 98 per cent say that mastering languages will be good for the future," says the European Commission report. With over half of all Europeans regularly using languages at work, it seems France and England will have to step up to meet international linguistic demands if they hope to maintain a secure position on the job market.
"Being able to communicate in a foreign language broadens your horizons and open doors," says Education Commissioner for Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou, "we must do more to improve teaching and learning."
Sadly, 14 per cent of high schoolers do not even have a "basic understanding" of a foreign language, severely limiting their job prospects in a world that is becoming more and more multicultural each minute.
The five most spoken foreign languages are English, French, German, Spanish and Russian, despite German and Russia being removed from the compulsory syllabus' of many Eastern European schools.
The countries who are doing the best are Malta and Sweden where 82 per cent of teenagers can competently converse in a second language. In innovative Sweden, it was announced in 2011 that Chinese would be introduced to every primary school in a bid to "increase the country's competitiveness", says national Swedish Education Minister Jan Bjoerklund.