Periodic surveys on "Europeans and their languages" are carried out by the Public Opinion Analysys sector of the European Commission. They provide a picture of language knowledge, language learning, and attitudes to language and translation in the EU. So far, 3 surveys have been conducted – in 2001, 2006 and 2012.
The survey reveals that Europeans have a very positive attitude towards multilingualism:
The survey was carried out in spring 2012 on almost 27 000 people from all 27 EU countries and from different social and age groups. Participants were interviewed face-to-face in their mother tongue.
The report contains data on the EU as a whole and broken down by country. Comparisons are drawn with previous surveys. For the first time the survey covers attitudes towards translation. The analysis presents social-demographic and behavioural variables based on the activities of the people interviewed as far as language learning is concerned.
56% of respondents said they were able to speak at least one foreign language. The countries with the highest rates of multilingualism were: Luxembourg, with 99% saying they knew at least one foreign language; Slovakia (97%) and Latvia (95%).
In 2005, 28% of the population interviewed spoke at least two foreign languages. The most popular languages chosen as a first foreign language were English, French and German, followed by Spanish and Russian.
Carried out in November-December 2005 on 29 000 people in 29 countries.
53% of respondents said they could speak at least one language in addition to their mother tongue, while 26% said they could speak at least 2 foreign languages.
Carried out between in December 2001 on 15 900 people in the 15 EU member countries.