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English, German favored for study in Bulgaria

Date: 24.02.2006

Bulgarians favor English and German when picking up foreign languages to study, according a survey by Eurobarometer.

The dominance of English as next to the mother tongue throughout Europe has been confirmed in the acceding Bulgaria as well, where 89% of respondents said they would learn English and 49% would German.

Sweden (27%) and the acceding country Bulgaria (27%) have shown the lowest proportions of citizens accepting the idea of everybody speaking at least two languages along with their mother tongue. This percentage is particularly higher in other South East European countries, such as Poland (75%), Greece (74%) and Lithuania (69%).

When it comes to non-EU languages, 8% of respondents in the candidate country Bulgaria name Turkish as their mother tongue, which is understandable for historical reasons. This effect is also detected in Latvia and Estonia, as a significant share of citizens speak Russian as their mother tongue (26% and 17% respectively).

The enquiry of Eurobarometer was carried out between 5 November and 7 December 2005, among 28 694 citizens in the EU-25 as well as in Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Turkey. The survey on the multilinguism in Europe is part of the wave 64.3 of the Eurobarometer.

The three core aims of the EC's multilingualism policy are to encourage language learning, to promote a healthy multilingual economy and to give all EU citizens access to the Union's legislation, procedures and information in their own language.

The official languages of the European Union are Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish and Swedish.

Irish will become the 21st official language on 1 January 2007. After the accession of Bulgaria and Romania the Union will operate in 23 official languages.

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