The Transatlantic Division in Learning a Foreign Language

Learning a foreign language has so many extensive benefits. It includes the ability to converse with unfamiliar people. It would help you to talk with foreigners during vacation as well as offer more commercial job opportunities. While language learning is common in Europe, the scenario is entirely different in the United States. Many European countries teach languages from the school level. But these standards do not exist on the other side of the Atlantic.

According to the analysis conducted by Pew Research Center, an average of 92% of European students are learning a foreign language at the school level. For example, in Romania and France, 100% of students are learning a foreign language. However, for Greece, Italy, and Germany, that percentage is 82. Besides this, the data of the U.K. and Ireland is unavailable. In comparison to this, 20% of U.S. primary and secondary students are learning a foreign language.

In this analysis, the European countries which are well-known for their linguistic powers such as Belgium and the Netherlands are low. They reported low percentages for learning language among primary and secondary students at school. But the rate of learning a foreign language increases in the upper secondary school students. They take different foreign language courses.

Foreign Language Study Requirements in Europe

At present, there are 24 official languages in the European Union (EU). In 1958, legislation declared German, French, Italian, and Dutch as the official languages of the EU. Learning a second language is compulsory in more than 20 European countries. Since in most of the European countries, learning a foreign language at school level is mandatory. According to a report from Eurostat, the statistic arm of the European Commission, a foreign language should be a compulsory subject between the ages of 6 and 9.

However, there are some exceptions in this, as Ireland and Scotland do not have compulsory language requirements. But Irish students learn both English as well as Gaelic, and neither is considered a foreign language. Thus, English is the most studied foreign language across all European countries. Scottish schools offer at least one foreign language option to all students between the ages of 10 to 18.

Although, in some countries, learning the English language as a foreign language is mandatory, the number of English learners remains high across the globe. After English, French and German are the next-most popular languages in most countries. But the U.S. does not have any mandate nationwide foreign language at any level of education. Still, primary schools have meagre rates of offering foreign language courses.

Americans Are Lagging in Language Learning

Students throughout the U.S. face similar educational tasks, from preparing for exams to writing papers. But there are some differences when we talk about foreign language education. Learning a foreign language is very trending among students throughout Europe. But no such standards exist in the United States. Thus, we can say American students are lagging behind the other students across the world when it comes to learning a foreign language.

On an average of 92%, European students begin learning in school. Of the 29 European nations, more than 90% of students enrolled in language courses. In three of the four countries, Malta, Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg, 100% of students reported learning a foreign language. There are 51% of students from New Jersey studying a foreign language, followed by District of Columbia (47%) and Wisconsin (36%). However, the vast majority of the United States has less than 25% participation in learning a foreign language.