Dutch among most multilingual in Europe

The Netherlands has been revealed to be one of the most multilingual nations in Europe by a recent study from the European Commission (EC).

English most commonly spoken foreign language

Ninety-four percent of respondents from the Netherlands said that they were able to speak at least one other language besides their mother tongue, with English the most commonly spoken of these foreign languages.

While 90 percent of the Dutch respondents said they had sufficient English in order to have a conversation, 71 percent also responded that their German was good enough for the same purpose.

The Netherlands is also only one of eight Member States of the EU in which a majority of respondents said that they had practical skills in at least two foreign languages. Luxembourg tops the list in this regard with 84 percent of those asked claiming to have such skills, while the Netherlands comes in second with 77 percent.

Contact with native speakers

The EC survey also asked people about the ways in which they have learnt other languages. Lessons at school was the primary method for all nations asked and 91 percent of people asked in the Netherlands stated this as a method of learning.

Interestingly though, respondents from the Netherlands formed the largest majority in the EU of people learning languages due to conversations with another native speaker, suggesting that the strong expat community in the country has helped improve the language skills of the native Dutch more so than in the rest of Europe.

This report comes not long after the Netherlands was shown to have the third best proficiency in the English language in the world, once more displaying the excellent command which the Dutch have over foreign languages.

The eight Member States with a majority of respondents who could speak two other foreign languages:

  Luxembourg (84%)
  Netherlands (77%)
  Slovenia (67%)
  Malta (59%)
  Denmark (58%)
  Latvia (54%)
  Lithuania & Estonia (52%)

Mark McDaid


Mark McDaid

Mark hails from the Emerald Isle but has been living in the land of cheese and deep-fried-indiscriminate-meat since February 2009. He can often be found trying to read through a...

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