English is the most commonly learnt language in virtually all out of 31 European countries studied. It is mandatory in 13 other European countries, according to a new report by the Eurydice Network, the EU's information network on education. The Eurydice report examines language teaching from primary to secondary general education in the 31 countries taking part in the EU's Lifelong Learning programme(1). Although showing a growing support for language learning in general education, with more learning of a foreign language at an early age, the report does pinpoint a growing shift towards English.
FRENCH AND GERMAN ALSO FAVOURED
In 13 European countries, the Eurydice report notes, English is the mandatory first foreign language. Even if given a choice, pupils and their parents tend to favour English. The lingua franca is now learnt by 90% of all European pupils at some stage of their compulsory education, making it by far the most widely taught language in primary education. When a second foreign language is taught, French and German are favoured. The report further notes that all pupils are obliged to learn a minimum of one foreign language at least up to the end of compulsoryaeducation, except in Italy and the United Kingdom (Welsh is not considered a foreign language in Wales, nor Irish in Ireland). In the United Kingdom, schools have a duty toaoffer a foreign language, even if pupils are under no obligation to learn one.
On the other hand, in non-English …