The European Union now believes that “multilingual citizens are better able to take advantage of the economic, professional and educational opportunities offered by an integrated Europe”. And that’s why your work placement in Slovenia is so great! And at the moment, only a quarter of Europe’s population can speak more than one foreign language. But maybe not you! And languages are important.

Why are foreign languages important?

Foreign languages are important for many reasons, both personally and professionally. Here are some key points that underline their importance:

  1. Communication: Foreign languages are an essential means of communicating with people from other countries and cultures. They enable us to forge links, share ideas, understand different perspectives and foster mutual understanding. They also facilitate travel, tourism and cultural exchange.
  2. Professional opportunities: Proficiency in a foreign language expands professional opportunities. Many companies operate on an international scale and are looking for candidates who can communicate with customers, partners and colleagues in different languages. Learning foreign languages can therefore improve job prospects and encourage professional mobility.
  3. Broadening your horizons: Learning a foreign language opens doors to new cultures, traditions and experiences. It allows us to explore foreign literature, watch films, understand music and take part in international cultural events. It broadens our horizons and allows us to appreciate the diversity of the world.
  4. Cognitive development: Learning foreign languages stimulates cognitive development by improving memory, concentration, problem-solving and mental flexibility. It also enhances analytical skills and the ability to communicate clearly and accurately. This can have positive effects on other areas of life, including study and work.
  5. Intercultural awareness: Foreign languages promote intercultural awareness by giving us a better understanding of the values, customs and social norms of other cultures. This fosters mutual respect, tolerance and cooperation in an increasingly interconnected world.

Multilingualism at the heart of the EU

As a member of the European Union, Slovenia recognises the importance of multilingualism and is committed to promoting linguistic diversity within the EU. Slovenian is the country’s official language and is used in all aspects of daily life, including public administration, education and the media.

However, as a country at the crossroads of different cultures and languages, Slovenia also places great importance on foreign language learning. Foreign language learning is integrated into the Slovenian education system, and students generally have the opportunity to learn English, German and Italian, as well as other optional foreign languages.

Multilingualism is also encouraged within the European Union, where several official languages co-exist. Slovenians have the opportunity to work and communicate with people from other EU member states, which encourages the use of different languages. In addition, many EU programmes and initiatives promote language learning and encourage linguistic and cultural exchanges between member countries.

In the context of the EU, Slovenia is therefore an example of promoting multilingualism, ensuring that its citizens can communicate effectively in their mother tongue while developing their language skills in other European languages. This strengthens mutual understanding, cross-border cooperation and cultural diversity within the European Union.

Young Slovenians are trilingual

A study has shown that the younger Slovenians are, the more languages they speak. 76% of Slovenians aged between 25 and 34 speak English!

In Slovenia, it is common for young people to be trilingual, or at least proficient in several languages. The Slovenian education system places great importance on language learning, enabling young Slovenians to develop their language skills from an early age.

Slovenian is Slovenia’s mother tongue and official language. All Slovenians learn Slovenian at primary school and speak it fluently. However, due to Slovenia’s geographical position and its membership of the European Union, many young Slovenians also master English as a second language. English is taught from primary school level and is widely used in education, business and tourism.

As well as Slovenian and English, many young Slovenians also learn a third foreign language, usually German, Italian, French, Spanish or Russian. The choice of third language often depends on the pupils’ personal preferences and the opportunities offered by the schools.

Young Slovenians’ command of several languages is the result of a language-focused education system, Slovenia’s own linguistic diversity and the country’s openness to the outside world. This enables young Slovenians to be competitive on the international labour market and to communicate with people of different cultures and nationalities.

However, it is important to note that language proficiency can vary from one individual to another. Not all young Slovenians are necessarily trilingual, but it is common to find young people who speak at least two languages in addition to Slovenian fluently.

The place of the French language in Slovenia?

The French language occupies a relatively modest position in Slovenia compared to other foreign languages such as English, German and Italian. Nevertheless, there is a certain amount of interest in the French language in the country.

In Slovenia, French is taught in some primary and secondary schools, as well as at universities. There are university departments dedicated to foreign languages, including French, where students can study French language, literature and culture.

French is also used in tourism, particularly in the more touristy areas where there may be a demand for services in French. Tourism professionals, such as tour guides or tourist office staff, may be able to communicate in French to welcome French-speaking tourists.

As far as the media are concerned, some Slovenian newspapers and magazines have articles or sections in French, although this is less frequent than publications in Slovenian and English.

It should be noted that fluency in French may vary from person to person in Slovenia. Practice of and exposure to French may be more limited than for other languages more widely used in the country.

In short, although French is not as widespread as other foreign languages in Slovenia, there are still opportunities to learn and use the language, particularly in education, tourism and the media.

Languages most learnt in Slovenia

In Slovenia, the languages most widely learnt after Slovene are generally English, German and Italian. Here are a few reasons why they are so popular:

  1. English: English has become the international language of communication par excellence. It is widely used in commerce, tourism, business and technology. What’s more, many English-language films, series and music are broadcast in Slovenia, adding to its appeal and encouraging Slovenians to learn English to communicate with the rest of the world.
  2. German: German is historically important in Slovenia due to the influence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the geographical proximity of Austria and Germany. Many Slovenians learn German for professional reasons, particularly in commerce and tourism. In addition, Germany is a major economic partner for Slovenia, which reinforces the importance of German in the business context.
  3. Italian: Italian is learnt in Slovenia because of its geographical proximity to Italy and the historical influence of Italian culture in certain parts of the country, particularly the Slovenian coast. Many Slovenes, particularly those living in border areas, learn Italian for practical reasons, including tourism and trade with Italy.

It is also important to mention that other foreign languages are also learnt in Slovenia, depending on individual interests, professional needs and educational programmes. Some people choose to learn less common languages such as French, Spanish, Russian or Chinese for a variety of personal, professional or academic reasons.

So the choice is yours for your work placement in Slovenia! Whether it’s an English-language course or an Italian-language course, it will always be good for you. What’s more, knowing another language means you’ll be more open to the world, you’ll meet more people and you’ll learn something completely different… So if you’d like to do your work placement in Slovenia, get in touch with us. Slovenia is a trilingual European country!

For more general questions, visit the International Horizons Internships Abroad FAQ.