Have you ever wondered how many people in the European Union can speak English? Or what the three most widely spoken languages in Germany are? Then I've got good news for you. On www.languageknowledge.eu you can find detailed information about language knowledge in 27 EU countries.
The website was launched by Jonathan Van Parys in 2012 and is based on data collected in the Europeans and their languages survey conducted by the European Commission. It does not contain any data on Croatia's top languages, probably because it only joined the Union last year, but the Croatian language was included in the study.
The website contains information about the most widely spoken languages across the EU. Unsurprisingly, English comes top, followed by German and French. Using the website's interactive tool you can then look at individual countries' results. What's more, you can even look up the percentage of native versus non-native speakers of each of the listed languages and filter results by age group.
I was slightly surprised by the fact that apparently only 38.5% of people in the Netherlands can speak English, the Dutch are famous for their excellent language skills and in my experience it is virtually impossible to find anyone unable to speak English in Amsterdam. I would have thought this figure was much higher, around the 70% mark. Russian is the fourth most spoken language in Germany after German, English and French and ahead of Turkish. Just under 21% of Luxembourg residents speak Portuguese, a rather high percentage, but it does not come as a surprise given that this country has a large Portuguese community. In the UK French is by far the most widely spoken language after English, followed by German and then Spanish.
The website also allows you to search by language in order to see in which countries it is particularly popular. Interestingly enough, you can also check which EU countries use sub-titling in media, which undoubtedly has a direct effect on the foreign language skills of their populations.
Overall, the website presents statistical EU data is a very visual, user-friendly and accessible way. It remains to be seen whether it will be updated with the most recent figures in the future, but it is definitely a great source of information on language knowledge in the EU. If you love languages I am sure you will find it interesting, regardless of where you live.