European Journal of Language Policy

English as a foreign language in the EU: Preliminary analysis of the difference in proficiency levels among the member states

European Journal of Language Policy (2010), 2, (1), 23–39.

Abstract

Recent research about languages in the EU has reported that English is the most widely known language besides the mother tongue in the EU member states, and it is also the most widely spoken language at country level in sixteen member states (CoEC 2005; 2006). Also, it has been acknowledged that the number of speakers of English as a foreign language (FL) among the member states is very varied (i.e., The Netherlands and Sweden over 80 per cent, and Italy and Spain under 30 per cent). This article presents a preliminary analysis to explain why these differences occur. Accordingly, we have established a factor taxonomy and identified different factors within four main categories: individual, linguistic, educational and societal. Although we cannot offer in-depth analysis because of extension restrictions and the interdisciplinary nature of the factors, we maintain that societal factors contribute highly to language learning success. In particular, social, historical, economic and demographical characteristics of a country, and its type of television broadcasting, may exert potential influence. This article also warns about the problematic side effects that language inequality may cause for the EU's consolidation process.

Les recherches récentes sur les langues dans l'UE confirment que l'anglais est la langue la plus connue, à côté de la langue maternelle dans les États-membres. Il est aussi la langue étrangère la plus utilisée dans seize de ces pays (CoEC 2005; 2006). On a reconnu que le nombre de locuteurs de l'anglais langue étrangère est très variable selon le pays (par ex : plus de 80 pour cent au Pays-Bas et en Suède, moins de 30 pour cent en Italie ou en Espagne). Cet article présente une analyse préliminaire pour expliquer comment ces différences existent. Nous avons donc adopté une taxonomie des facteurs, que nous avons groupés en quatre catégories principales : facteurs individuels, linguistiques, éducatifs et sociaux. Bien que l'analyse approfondie soit exclue dans le cadre d'un article court, nous postulons que les facteurs sociaux contribuent largement au succès dans l'apprentissage des langues. En particulier, les caractères sociaux, historiques, économiques et démographiques d'un pays, ainsi que son type d'émissions de télévision, peuvent exercer une influence potentielle. Cet article avertit aussi que les effets problématiques de l'inégalité linguistique peuvent nuire au processus d'intégration européenne.

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Agha, A. (2007). Language and Social Relations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Language and Social Relations Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Alvarez, M. (2003). 'La oralidad en el aula: Situación de la lengua oral en los sistemas educativos europeos', at http://amaraberri.org/topics/diadia/arin/oralaul Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Buchberger, I. (2002). 'A Multilingual Ideology in a Monolingual Country: Language Education in Finland', CAUCE. Revista de Filología y su Didáctica 25: 185–202, at http://cvc.cervantes.es/literatura/cauce/pdf/cauce25/cauce25_11.pdf Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

CoEC (Commission of the European Communities), Press Service (2009). 'Multilingualism: An Asset for Europe'. Press Release at http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+IMPRESS+20090323IPR52350+0+DOC+PDF+V0//EN&language=EN Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Danan, M. (2004). 'Captioning and Subtitling: Undervalued Language Learning Strategies', Meta, vol. 49. 1, avril, at http://www.erudit.org/revue/meta/2004/v49/n1/009021ar.html Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Eurydice (2003). 'Taught Time in Compulsory Education', at http://194.78.211.243/Temps3_update/temps.asp Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Gillies, D. (2008). 'Developing Governamentality: Conduct and Education Policy', Journal of Education Policy 23.4: 415–27. Developing Governamentality: Conduct and Education Policy Journal of Education Policy 23 415 27 Google Scholar

Ginsburg, V. A., and S. Weber (2005). 'Language Disenfranchisement in the European Union', Journal of Common Market Studies 43.2: 273–86. Language Disenfranchisement in the European Union Journal of Common Market Studies 43 273 86 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

INCE (1997). Evaluación Comparada de la Enseñanza y Aprendizaje de la Lengua Inglesa. España, Francia, Suecia. Madrid, at http://www.ince.mec.es/hf/index.htm Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Lightbown, P., and N. Spada (2006). How Languages are Learned, 2nd edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press). How Languages are Learned Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Mitchell, R., and F. Myles (2006). Second Language Learning Theories, 2nd edition (London: Hodder Arnold). Second Language Learning Theories Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Symigné Fenyo, S. (2003). 'The Function of the English Language in the European Union', European Integration Studies 2.2: 53–64. The Function of the English Language in the European Union European Integration Studies 2 53 64 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Teichmann, H., and H. J. de Vries (2009). 'Language Selection Policies in International Standardization – Perception of the IEC Member Countries', ERIM Report Series, Ref. No. ERS-2009-031-LIS, (6); at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1417222 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Vanderplank, R. (1988). 'The Value of Teletext Subtitles in Language Learning', ELT Journal 42.4: 272–81. The Value of Teletext Subtitles in Language Learning ELT Journal 42 272 81 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Rubio, Fernando

Lirola, María Martínez