US STUDENTS ARE BEHIND THEIR EUROPEAN PEERS IN LEARNING FOREIGN LANGUAGES
The United States is blessed and cursed when it comes to languages. It is blessed because in the 21st century English is the global lingua franca and the official language in 59 countries. It is cursed because, from a group of developed countries, particularly European countries, primary age children in the US are the least likely to learn a foreign language. This is the conclusion of the Pew Research Center, which tested several North American and European education systems and noted some serious failings in the teaching of foreign languages in the US.
On average, 92% of primary and secondary school pupils in 29 European countries start learning a foreign language between the ages of 6 and 9. The figure for the US is 20%.
The benefits of speaking a foreign language do not seem to have convinced Americans. According to the 2016 Pew study, only 36% of Americans think understanding a foreign language is important or very important for success in the job market – just as many as those who believe it is important to understand how to use social media.
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