Some native English speakers’ attitude towards learning foreign languages can be summarized as “why should I learn a foreign language if pretty much everybody speaks English?” While it is true that English is among the most commonly learned second languages in the world, only a small percentage of the world population are able to speak it at a conversational level.
Europe is traditionally very English-oriented (in comparison with the rest of the world); almost all EU citizens have had at least some contact with English during their life. However, when it comes to actually speaking it with at least a rudimentary level of proficiency, the numbers are not as much in favour of those with the attitude described above.
The following map shows the percentage of people who are able to hold a conversation in English. It is based on the data contained in the “Special Eurobarometer 386″ (from 2012), and the underlying blank map is due to Tindo and licensed from fotolia.com.
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Update: Corrected typo for the Netherlands and reevaluated Ireland to “>95%”.
by Jakub Marian