Romania holds second place behind UK for least foreign language skills

Sixty-four percent of the people living in Romania don’t speak any foreign language, which means that just besting the United Kingdom Romania has the highest ratio of people within the EU who can only communicate in their mother tongue, Eurostat numbers show.

This is even more interesting if we take into consideration that more than 1.2 million native Hungarians live in Transylvania (6.5 percent of the country’s population) who obviously speak at least two languages: Hungarian as their mother tongue and Romanian.

Source: Eurostat

In third place is Hungary, where 57.6 percent of people can only express themselves in their native tongue.

Hungarians are followed by Bulgarians of whom 50.5 percent and the Irish of whom 49.2 percent don’t speak any other language. (However in this case it has to be noted parenthetically that only 2 percent of Irish call the Irish language their main community language, and only 25 percent of them can understand it at least to some extent. So when we are saying that “49.2 percent of Irish don’t speak any other language besides their native one,” we are considering English as their native tongue.)

At the other end of the scale is Sweden, where almost everybody speaks at least one foreign language and only 3.4 percent of them speak only their native language.

Source: Eurostat

The study also shows the most popular languages learned as a second language among pupils at lower secondary level within the EU. Not surprisingly, first is English (97.9 percent) followed by French (33.4 percent) German (23.3 percent), Spanish (16.9 percent), Russian (2.5 percent) and Italian (1.3 percent). (Please note that this second study was conducted among only 27 EU member states, excluding the UK.)


Title image: Illustration from

Author: Attila Szoó