EU suffers lack of polyglots

Interpretation service of European Parliament, photo EP courtesy

Estonian ministers in  appearances in European Parliament were rather embarrassing because of lack of English skills, according to philologist Tuuli Oder .

“The use of language of a minister, especially talking about the European presidency and all that, would ideally be at the C2 level, close to that of an educated native speaker. Not a great many Estonians use that kind of language,” – Oder commented, adding that B2 was generally thought to be good enough for a minister to deal with the press.

More than half of Europeans (54%) are able to have a conversation in a foreign language, according to a 2012 Eurobarometer survey, while 25% can speak at least two additional languages. Although the European Parliament is keen to promote language learning, it also believes it is important for people to be able to follow its work in their own language.

“I’m hesitating between English and French. But I’ve made my choice, I will express myself in French because slowly but surely English is losing importance in Europe,” – said European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker at an event in Italy.


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