Thursday, 24 January, 2019

93% of Finnish residents bilingual

13 Dec 2018, 03:34 ( 1 Month ago) | updated: 13 Dec 2018, 09:40 ( 1 Month ago)

DF Report
Photo Visit Finland by Elina Manninen/Keksi.

At least one foreign language is spoken by 93 per cent of the population aged 18 to 64, according to the Statistics Finland.

The number is the same as was five years previously. The dependence between the level of education and knowledge of foreign languages has decreased and language skills have increased from 1995 most among those with merely basic level of qualifications, the share having grown by 37 percentage points by 2017.

Those with longer basic education knew foreign languages more often than those with shorter basic education. When nearly all of those with tertiary-level academic degrees knew at least one foreign language, this was so for 91 per cent of those with upper secondary level educational qualifications and for 87 per cent of those with basic-level qualifications.

The dependence between the level of education and knowledge of foreign languages has decreased considerably over 22 years. During that time, those with only basic-level qualifications have improved their language skills the most, by 37 percentage points. The language skills of those with upper secondary-level educational qualifications also increased steadily from 1995 to 2012, by nearly 20 percentage points. In 2017, the difference between the language skills of those with basic-level qualifications and tertiary-level qualifications was only 10 percentage points.

Knowledge of languages grew from 1995 until 2012, when 93 per cent of the population aged 18 to 64 said they knew some foreign language at least a little. In 1995 and 2000, ten percentage points fewer men than women said they knew foreign languages. The difference had halved by 2017. In 2017, there were as many foreign language speakers as five years ago – 93 per cent of the population aged 18 to 64.

Nearly all persons aged below 45 knew at least one foreign language (96 to 97 per cent). Among older people, 92 per cent of those aged 45 to 54 and 83 per cent of those aged 55 to 64 knew at least one foreign language.

The most spoken foreign languages were English, Swedish, and German. Nine out of 10 persons aged 18 to 64 said they knew English, seven out of 10 Swedish and three out of 10 German.