The old continent has plenty to offer to curious tourists. The long and turbulent history has left Many Europeans to speak more than one language which is why we decided to put together a list of the most common second languages in Europe.
Undoubtedly, language is a fascinating system of communication, and although the numbers usually vary due to various reasons, according to Linguistic Society of America, there are 6,909 languages in the world. Unfortunately, many of those languages only have a handful of speakers now, and they are on their way to extinction. It is estimated that about 3,000 out of the 6,909 languages are going to be extinct, reports the LSA. On the other side of the spectrum, we have the Chinese language which is the most spoken language in the world.
Languages of Europe mostly belong to an Indo-European family, and there are 24 officially recognized languages within the European Union. This doesn’t include indigenous and minority languages or non-indigenous languages spoken by migrant communities, according to The Guardian. The most spoken languages in Europe include Russian, German, French, Italian, and English. Knowing French or any other of the most widely spoken languages in Europe can come in handy when visiting the old continent.
If your question is what is the main language spoken in Europe the answer is English, and here’s why. While Russian has about 100 million native speakers in Europe, English has the largest number of speakers in total, including those who speak English as a second language. The situation has changed during the last few decades and now English is taught in most schools in Europe. Speaking of English, these are the 11 easiest second languages to learn for English speakers, so if you’re curious, take a look at it.
It seems that a pretty large number of Europeans speak a second language, and living on the old continent myself, I can confirm that. The Guardian wrote that almost 54% of Europeans could hold a conversation in at least one additional language while a quarter of the population can speak two languages besides their native tongue. According to the same report, countries, where people are least able to speak any additional language, include Hungary, Italy, The UK, and Ireland. But I must add that while in Budapest, Hungary, I had many short conversations with the locals in English. Where I struggled the most trying to hold a conversation in English is France where people were mostly able to pronounce a few words in English.
Knowing a second language is also becoming a prominent job requirement as many employers require you to know English, French or German, for example. Overall, linguistic diversity is encouraged within education establishments and workplaces, according to Eurostat. According to the same research, when it comes to upper secondary general education, 95.8% of students were learning English in 2015. 23.2% or 22.1% of them were studying French or Spanish, and a slightly smaller number of them were studying German. Now that we mentioned Spanish take a look at 7 easiest languages to learn for Spanish speakers.
Our list of most common second languages in Europe is largely based on foreign language statistics gathered by Eurostat and Language Knowledge. To further supplement our research, we considered Jakub Marian’s report on most common foreign languages in Europe.
These are the 6 most common second languages in Europe.
Russian is the native language to over 100 million people in Europe, but it is also taught as a second language too and is popular among EU students. Many students are taking classes in this East Slavic language.
Romance languages are quite popular on the old continent. According to the research, Italian is one of the most commonly spoken second languages, and it is taught in schools throughout Europe, just like the other widely spoken languages.
According to the statistics, Spanish is almost side by side with French and German when it comes to most common second languages in Europe. Spanish is taught in schools throughout Europe, and its popularity is increasing.
German, just like French, is one of the important languages in Europe. As a matter of fact, besides English, German is the most spoken language in Europe. Moreover, it’s the official language in Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein, and it is a co-official language in Switzerland, Belgium, and Luxembourg. It is also one of the three working languages of the EU alongside English and French, which are, by the way, most studied languages in Europe.
French used to be the language of diplomacy and was commonly used throughout Europe before English overtook and became the most spoken language. Statistics show us that this Romance language is still quite popular among second languages and many students learn French in elementary or high school.
With English being considered a universal language and spoken worldwide, it is no wonder that it is the top second language among Europeans. It’s one of the most useful languages in Europe. Almost all students living on the old continent are learning this language, which is certainly an amazing statistics. Naturally, we ranked it first among 6 most common second languages in Europe.