Jonathan Van Parys of Where’s My Villo? fame got in touch to tell us about a nice little mini-project he’s just launched to coincide with the European Day of Languages, which is today:

Launching on the 2012 European Day of Languages, is a new website that visualizes language knowledge in Europe based on the latest European Commisson survey data, published this summer in the “Europeans and their languages” Eurobarometer.

The interactive website allows visitors to find out which languages are most widely known in Europe, by country, age groups, and see the split between native speakers and people who learnt the language later in life. Visitors can also pick any language to see in which countries that language is most popular.

Here are a few interesting insights:

  • German, English and Italian are the largest mother-tongues in Europe.
  • English, French and German are the largest foreign languages in Europe.
  • Italy, Spain, Czech Republic and Hungary are the countries where young people speak the least English.
  • Some 41% of young people in Europe speak English, and 21% speak German and French.
  • Zoom in on older people, and those figures are 25%, 23% and 18% respectively.
  • The top foreign languages in Poland, where the bulk of the European Day of Languages festivities are taking place, are English, German and Russian. If you zoom in on older people, the order is reversed to Russian, German and English.
  • Outside of Poland, the countries with the largest shares of Polish speakers are Lithuania, Ireland and Germany.
  • There are three countries in Europe where Russian is known by more than 40% of the population: the 3 Baltic States.

Choose any country or language on to discover language knowledge statistics for your own place of living or mother-tongue.

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Dr. Jonathan Gray is Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, where he is currently writing a book on data worlds. He is also Cofounder of the Public Data Lab; and Research Associate at the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam) and the médialab (Sciences Po, Paris). More about his work can be found at and he tweets at @jwyg.