Thursday, August 19, 2004

Curing Monolingualism in Hungary

Hungarian Prime Minister Péter Medgyessy made it clear to his ministers that retaining their jobs would depend on their progress in becoming bilingual. With a reshuffling of ministries approaching, it appears many ministers fail to make the grade in spite of serious efforts to learn a second language. What about Hungarians language fluency in general? Well, it's no better than their ministers. A survey by the ministry found that only 19% of the population can communicate in a foreign language. Hungary trails behind all the other new European union member states. Slovenia, on the other hand, leads the multilingualism field, with over 70% speaking one of the major Western European languages (English, French, German, Italian or Spanish), and 91% speaking at least one foreign language. Within the European Union as a whole, 53% of the population can communicate in at least one foreign language. The Scandinavians lead the pack when it comes to language knowledge while the British continue to suffer from monolingualism.

No comments: