France - European Union

Only 13 per cent of French 'proficient' in English

A primary school clas in Caen on northern France
A primary school clas in Caen on northern France AFP

Only 13 per cent of French people consider themselves "proficient" in English, according to a study by European number-crunchers Eurostat. Only Italians are as bad, the survey shows.

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Only 13 per cent of French or Italian respondents between the ages of 25 and 64 told Eurostat that they were "proficient" in English, according to a survey published Thursday, which is the EU's European Day of Languages.

Germans were not much better, at 16 per cent, while Maltese, Swedes and Cypriots were the highest scorers.

The criteria were high, however, "proficient" being defined as the "ability to understand and produce a wide range of demanding texts and use the language flexibly".

French confidence rose when it came to the "good" category, with 38 per cent placing themselves, while 49 per cent judged their English to be "fair".

With English regarded as being the language of the internet and an important means of international communication, it is widely taught in European schools.

In 2011 83 per cent of pupils at primary and lower secondary level and 94 per cent of over-15-year-olds in education were studying English as a foreign language.

French came second at 19 per cent and 23 per cent respectively.

It was studied by over half of pupils at primary and lower secondary level in Luxembourg and Romania.

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