Record Number of Students Study English Skip to content

Record Number of Students Study English

Eighty-percent of students in compulsory education in Iceland were enrolled in English classes during the school year 2011-2012.

bookshelf_psPhoto by Páll Stefánsson.

According to new data from Statistics Iceland, the rate has never been higher and more students are learning English from an earlier age.

However, the development is not unique to Iceland; similar trends can be seen in other European countries.

English is usually taught in Iceland from grade 4 onwards but is also often taught in grades 1-3. Last year, 39.2 percent of school children in grades 1-3 studied English compared to just 14.8 percent five years ago.

At the same time, a record number of students in compulsory education are enrolled in Spanish classes, while the proportion of students studying Spanish in upper secondary schools has dropped for the first time.

Seventy-four percent of students at upper secondary level studied a foreign language in 2011-2012. Students in the upper secondary level learn fewer languages than in previous years; never has the number of students been lower since Statistics Iceland starting publishing comparable data in 2002-2003. The trend is seen as a result of fewer students selecting the language stream of study in recent years.

English (61.5 percent) is the most commonly learnt language in upper secondary school followed by Danish (31.6 percent), German (17.4 percent), Spanish (16 percent), and French (8.7 percent).

The data was published for the European Day of Languages, today.


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