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In a nutshell

Sabine Oelze / cmk
January 22, 2013

In German schools, French is competing with other languages. And in France, the number of students choosing German has dropped.

School class in Bavaria Foto: Peter Kneffel dpa/lby +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

In Germany, the number of students studying French has declined slightly. In 2007, there were 143,834 children in elementary school who were still learning French. In 2011, that number had dropped to 122,655 students.

A similar development has also been observed in the secondary school system. In 2007, in the lower level of secondary school - students between the ages of 10 and 16 - there were 1,758,545 students interested in studying French nationwide. In 2011, that number had sunk to 1,526,174.

Less than a third of students opt to study French as a foreign language during their school career. In general, the French language is declining in popularity. Some German states (Bavaria, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein) only offer French as a second language option, after Spanish or Latin. And the number of people who decided to learn the language after finishing school has also decreased, from 108,924 in 2007 to 94,365 in 2011. In 2012, about 9,500 Germans learned French at an Institut Francais cultural center.

The numbers are on the decline in France as well, where about a million students are choosing to learn German, 17 percent of all students in the public school system. France, however, has about 15 million fewer inhabitants than Germany. In France, as in Germany, English is the second language of choice.