A vice-president of the European Commission has called on the EU to embrace the idea that English, even if spoken and written poorly and with bad grammar, is the most universal language for non-native speakers from different countries to communicate in.
Frans Timmermans, who is Dutch, made the point in a speech at a Dutch university, addressing complaints that the university focuses too much on international students and uses too much English in its classes. Critics have claimed that this is bad for students' Dutch language skills. Timmermans rejected that idea, saying that English at university is not to blame, but rather poor education in early years.
Timmermans pointed out that a century ago, French served Europe as a 'lingua franca,' a role that English has assumed in recent years, at least in Europe, where a majority of EU citizens say they can speak English, compared to 26% for French. Rates in individual countries range from 55% in France to 71% in Sweden, with an EU average of 65%.
Image: Frans Timmermans