How many languages can you speak? British people are generally not very good language learners. In a recent survey, 62% of the population only speak English! 


If you’re reading this, then you’re probably studying English. Maybe you speak a couple of other languages too. What are the British like when it comes to learning languages?


Brits are famous for not speaking foreign languages. According to a survey published by the European Commission, this bad reputation is totally justified. The results of the survey state that the British are officially the worst language learners in Europe! Let’s look at some statistics:

  • 62% of people surveyed can’t speak any other language apart from English.
  • 38% of Britons speak at least one foreign language, 18% speak two and only 6% of the population speak three or more.
  • The European Union average showed that 56% speak at least one foreign language, 28% speak at least two and 11% speak three or more. The survey confirmed that English was the most widely-spoken foreign language. 51% of EU citizens can have a conversation in English.


Learning a foreign language is not a popular option at school in Britain. In UK schools it is common for children to start studying a foreign language at the age of 11 and many students give up languages completely at 14. So why don’t young people continue with languages at school? Research suggests that students think that it is more difficult to get good grades in languages than in other subjects such as science or history. The British government is now looking at different ways to improve language learning at school. One idea is to start much younger; there are plans to introduce foreign languages from the age of 5.

Which languages?

Another plan is to give school children more choice. The languages traditionally studied in British schools have been French, Spanish and German. Now the government is encouraging teachers to expand the range of languages taught to include Arabic, Mandarin and Urdu.

Mandarin Chinese is predicted to become the second most popular foreign language learned in UK schools. It is already studied by more children than German or Russian. Only French and Spanish are more popular. Gareth from Wales says 'I am learning Chinese, and find it fun.' Another student, Thomas from London, says 'Just telling people that I learn Mandarin impresses people. Even having a very basic level gives you an advantage.' Brighton College has become the first independent school to make Mandarin a compulsory foreign language. Its headmaster Richard Cairns said, 'One of my key tasks is to make sure pupils are equipped for the realities of the 21st century. One of those realities is that China has the fastest-growing economy in the world.'

It may be an ambitious task to change the Brits’ attitude to learning languages but the government is determined to try!

Total votes: 1035
Language level: 


How many languages can you speak? Do you like learning English? How important is it to you to speak foreign languages?


Forever_in__dream's picture
Forever_in__dream 13 June, 2016 - 15:35

I can speak 2 languages: Russian (my native language) and English. Also I know Ucrainian a little. I real like learning English, it's very interesting to compare different languages and get to know information about culture, traditions of the countries where English is spoken. Also, I can watch films and listen to music in English and understand! Isn't it wonderful? And the most enjoyable thing I can do is talking to people all over the world and make friends with them! Another advantage of knowing foreign languages is that in our country it'll be more easely to find a decent job. I need to study English because my future profession requires communications with different people and with foreigners too.

68 users have voted.
MARCreally's picture
MARCreally 1 December, 2015 - 16:11

I can speak two languages Spanish and English, I like to learn English because it is interesting, also is fun.
I think it's important to master foreign languages, but not forgetting the native language of your country, which belong to your culture and that should not be missed, and these must also learn.

85 users have voted.
RUTHJT3B's picture
RUTHJT3B 1 December, 2015 - 16:10

I speak two languages. I like to learn English because is important for mi and it is interesting but English is very difficult. Is very important learn more languages.

74 users have voted.
esme29_12coartac's picture
esme29_12coartac 1 December, 2015 - 16:06

I'm learning English, is that this language will serve for the future succeed because most countries speak this language and is due to be opened me many opportunities.

79 users have voted.
ILOVEME's picture
ILOVEME 1 December, 2015 - 15:46

I speak three languages but for now I am learning English, this lenguages is easy because i spend ten hour studying this language. Is very important leanr a lot lenguages because you can talk with a lot of people for diferent contry .

78 users have voted.
Danitza_14's picture
Danitza_14 1 December, 2015 - 16:10

I can speak two languajes. This are Espanish end English.
Learning English is very important for my because I like to learn new Languajes. Is vey important learn new
languages because you can talk with peoples from diferents country end learn their customs.

83 users have voted.
3DJM's picture
3DJM 1 December, 2015 - 15:33

I speak three languajes are spanish, aymara and english, the language english is more important and interesting now that the languege you will serve for the future.
Is very important learn foreign languages because when you to go another country is very normal.

82 users have voted.
melgizeh's picture
melgizeh 1 December, 2015 - 14:38

I speak one foreign language. I am learning to speak english :)
Spanish is my mother language. It's very important for life, when you travell to another countries.

76 users have voted.
Gabriela_15's picture
Gabriela_15 1 December, 2015 - 14:21

I speak in spanish also I am learning to speak english in my school. In the future, I also want to learn another languages like french or japanese. I like to speak in english, because I think that this language is easier If I frequently study and practice. The english is very important. And I think that learning another languages are important because so I can Express my ideas to others and learn from other countries.

82 users have voted.
iva10's picture
iva10 29 September, 2015 - 21:14

Now is the third year that i'm studing french (also english but from the first grade).I know a bit jappaness ,spain and indian.Iwould also like to improve my english so that it would be perfect.

84 users have voted.
Moe's picture
Moe 22 February, 2015 - 17:55

Hi, I am from Myanmar. I am 10th standard student. I will have to answer my final exam on 11th March, next month.
If I pass the exam, I will go to university. So I am trying for exam. After my exam, I will have much time to learn English
including English teens. I am so interesting this training but I will have to stay away from English teens now.

57 users have voted.
Moe's picture
Moe 22 February, 2015 - 17:43

I speak Myanmar and English a little. I hope after learn ing English from learn Englisbteens , I will improve my English.

65 users have voted.
famz97's picture
famz97 13 December, 2014 - 14:30

I am from Indonesia so My First language is Indonesian. I learn English since Primary school but I still can't use Grammar well (and I just can speak a little) . I also ever learn Arabic but yeah I just can use a little. Now, I learn German language but I don't understand and I think I will get bad mark for this lesson. Yeah I just speak well with my First language. I am sorry if My English is terrible...

60 users have voted.
francesca97it's picture
francesca97it 7 December, 2014 - 10:04

I know only two language: italian(my first language) and english. But i woul learn another language becouse it is very important for future.

54 users have voted.
legend's picture
legend 13 November, 2014 - 14:55

I am learning English for six years and German for four years. I love English and I want to be improved a bit every day as possibly as I can. I think is too important to learn foreign languages because will helps you in the future (jobs, if you travel in counties who speaks English).

48 users have voted.
Ribana's picture
Ribana 25 October, 2014 - 19:10

I'm from the Czech republic, so my first language is of course Czech. I just love English. It's my first foreign language and it's compulsory for almost every child in the CR. The rest of them study German, or at least used to. Now it might be compulsory to study English for everyone. Well, I don't know, because we start learning English in year 3 and I'm in year 10 and my sister in year 8.
My second foreign language is German. That is now compulsory in year 8- either German, French or Russian in my school. I first thought German is really useless, because everyone in German speaks English. But then I went to Germany for an exchange. We were supposed to speak English there and we did. But I had to speak German with my exchange partner's parents. Then I realised how's much I can say after a year and a half and I started to be interested and pretty good at it.

58 users have voted.
Downton6Abbey6Fan's picture
Downton6Abbey6Fan 19 October, 2014 - 22:02

I´ve been learning French for six years. I just started to learn English in 2012. I really enjoy learning English and that´s the reason, why I´m on this website.

55 users have voted.
bagheri's picture
bagheri 27 August, 2014 - 07:46

please help me more dear tina.i am20years.My English level is low, Would you offered me the part of the adults I use?!!thanks for your answer

55 users have voted.
Tina - Coordinator's picture
Tina - Coordinator 29 August, 2014 - 06:22

Hi bagheri
Once you have written some comments on the LearnEnglish site, the LearnEnglish Team will be able to advise you and help you to find ways of improving your English.
Good luck and happy learning, Tina (LearnEnglish Teen Team)

56 users have voted.
bagheri's picture
bagheri 24 August, 2014 - 11:13

i can't speak english well but i understand texts that are written in english partly.i am a student of medicin therfore i have to learn it,because in medicine your knowledge must be update.

62 users have voted.
Tina - Coordinator's picture
Tina - Coordinator 25 August, 2014 - 08:44

Hi bagheri
Thanks for your comments on LearnEnglish Teens. This website is especially for teenagers aged 13-17 years old but it sounds like you are older than that. You are welcome to keep on using LearnEnglish Teens but if you are over 17, please do NOT post any more comments as we must keep this strictly for teenagers to interact with each other. You are welcome to join our LearnEnglish page for adults and post comments there:
Best wishes, Tina (LearnEnglish Teen Team)

55 users have voted.
polyrrr's picture
polyrrr 31 May, 2014 - 14:59

Hi, I'm from Russia. I speak two languages: Russian and English. Now I'm improving my English and learning another language - German, but I want to study other foreign languages, too. In my opinion, speaking foreign language gives a lot of advantages, so it's very important for me.

55 users have voted.
NMemmedova's picture
NMemmedova 28 March, 2014 - 20:08

Hellooo...I am from Azerbaijan...We speak Azerbaijan language..This is my native language...
I am EAMP STUDENT..I go to ENGLISH COURSE...Nice too meet you :)

55 users have voted.
dzeni's picture
dzeni 28 February, 2014 - 13:00

I can speak three foreign languages: English, Italian and Russian. I like learning English. I think it is very important to know other languages. Then is all easy: we can travel and have good time, we can talk with people around the world, we can listen and understand foreign music, read books on foreign language...Wherever you go you need it.

49 users have voted.
cklj's picture
cklj 16 February, 2014 - 19:03

I'm from Macedonia, so Macedonian is my mother language. I also speak English, French and Serbian, because Macedonian and Serbian language have very in common and they are from same language group. I understand Spanish a little too, because of one interesting Spanish series that was showing in my country .
I love learning English. I started learning English when I was 8. Now I'm 14 and I'm still enjoying while learning English. It's one of my favourite languages and I'm hoping that one day I'll be able to speak English with a real British accent.
I love my language, but I also love learning new languages, new things and things about new cultures. In the future I'd like to learn to speak Spanish and Turkish maybe. It's very important for me to speak foreign languages, because that skill makes me feel special, smart and powerful in the same time.

57 users have voted.
justcricketforme's picture
justcricketforme 9 February, 2014 - 07:59

Hi. I can speak Urdu, Arabic, Hindi, Punjabi, English, Persian (a bit) and Chinese (still learninng). I can understand Pashto but not speak it. I can also understand other local and provincial languages of Pakistan. In our school, we have to speak English all day except for in our Urdu period. Most of the peopl here have difficulty speaking it in school all the time. Our school gives the ones who speak English always a badge and if you keep ot for at least a week, at the end of the year, with your result, you get a personal gift from our English teacher. It encourages a lot of people to speak English. I got a really awesome pen and a nice wallet since I was the "Language Master" for three months and was removed by the teacher to give others a chance not because of me not speaking English. Yes, I love learning English and I also love the language. It is fun learning and speaking forgien languages for they help us in learning about the country and culture.

52 users have voted.