Germans learn foreign languages while foreigners shun German

Germans learn foreign languages while foreigners shun German
Photo: DPA
Germans are more keen than ever to learn a second language, but fewer foreigners are choosing to study German, according to two new surveys.

A recent poll of 4,000 employed adult Germans for US language software developer Rosetta Stone put Germans at the vanguard of polyglots. The survey cited the country’s international focus – both recreationally and professionally – as the driving force behind the unprecedented importance of foreign languages in Germany.

“While 88 percent of working Germans over 18 know at least one foreign language, the international average lies at a mere 57 percent,” according to the survey published last week.

Predictably, English is undisputed as the most widely-spoken foreign language in Germany at 77 percent. Some 48 percent of Germans cited travel abroad as the main reason they learned a second language, while 40 percent said it was most important to their careers.

However, new EU data published on Wednesday by the Institute for German Economics in Cologne said the Germans’ language love-fest wasn’t mutual.

The number of students taking German language lessons since 2002 has fallen in all European countries except two – Slovenia and Bulgaria.

The survey also said German only came in a distant third to English and French for foreign language instruction everywhere aside from the tiny Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. There some 99 percent of pupils take German. The only other country to come close was Germany’s other neighbour Denmark, where 84 percent of students learned German. However, 100 percent of Danes also learn English.