Languages in Finns' lives

The aim of the section was to form an overall picture of the role played by languages in the respondents’ lives, with particular reference to English.

The respondents were asked whether they consider themselves mono-, bi-, or multilingual. Despite the fact that most Finns have studied English at school and are fairly proficient in it, the majority (84 %) of the respondents considered themselves to be monolingual. This seems to indicate that for Finns even a good proficiency in a foreign language is not bi/multilingualism – in their opinion these terms refer to native-like competence only.


The distribution for the question “Do you consider yourself to be mono-, bi-, or multilingual?”


The respondents were also asked to list which languages (English, French, German, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Finnish or other, what?) they use and in which situations (at work, at school or in my studies, at home, with hobbies, with friends or while travelling) they do so. In this question even minor occasions of speaking, reading and writing were considered as language use.

All in all, English was the most commonly used and Swedish the second most commonly used language. German was the third most frequently used language, but in relation to English and Swedish it was significantly less important.

64 % of the respondents used English while travelling abroad and 40 % used it at work – indicating how for many Finns both their leisure time and work activities have become more international. English was used slightly more with friends than at school, in studies or leisure time activities. Especially among the youngest age group (15-24 years) using English with friends was quite common. English seems to have an important role in their everyday and social life.

Survey_using English

The frequencies of using English in different situations.