The most popular languages in the world, according to research results from the Summer Institute of Linguistics, are: Chinese, Arabic, Hindi, English and Spanish. Do these figures impact somehow upon Polish people’s choice of foreign language?
Nowadays, as more and more young people are focusing on speaking foreign languages, opportunities to learn languages offered by public education in Poland must improve. From this year on, it is obligatory for Polish pupils to study 2 foreign languages, which might contribute to having more hours reserved for languages in schools. The Eurydice report 06/07 shows that in Polish primary and middle schools, pupils spent 456 hours per year studying languages. This statistic leaves Poland in last position in Europe. In Romania, for instance, the figure lies at 812 hours per year. Students in Luxemburg, the leading country in foreign language education, spend 3,813 hours – 8 times more than Polish ones!
The most popular language in Poland is of course, like the rest of Europe, English. 72.4% of students study it as the second language. Every year the percentage of people interested in studying languages other than English drops though. Every 3rd person studies German, whereas only a small amount study Russian (4.6%) or French (2.6%).
Is it really true that, by speaking English, you are able to communicate with people everywhere in the world? 70% of people living in North America speak English; however, in other continents this language is not that common. In many places it is even completely unknown. Let’s check out just how diverse the most popular languages are in different parts of the world: World Language Map.
Young Poles prefer languages, which will be more useful for them. That is why, on the whole, they opt for European ones, even if there are not that common throughout the whole world. The most popular languages are English and then German, Italian, Spanish, French, Norwegian, Dutch, Japanese, Russian and Swedish. We can see that the languages above overlap with migration destinations for Poles.
German has been at the top of the Polish list for a very long time. This is probably due to the close proximity of the countries, continual Polish migration to Germany and business. Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish are not wide-spread throughout the world, but the opportunities that young Polish people see in these countries must motivate them to study said languages. After numerous years, Russian is back in vogue. Poles are more curious about their Eastern neighbour, their culture and tradition, but also about the opportunities for business co-operation. When it comes to the Romance languages, Polish people seem to love those warm-blooded Southern-Europeans. This contributes towards their interest in these languages as well. Growing popularity of Japanese culture and cuisine can be also seen, as more and more Polish are speaking this language.
The ability to communicate in five foreign languages, common in Scandinavia and the Benelux countries, is still rare in Poland. English is a must, yet for professional development it is not enough. As a nation that moves a lot, the Polish, with their entrepreneurship and language knowledge, might not only work for foreigners, but also do business with them.