Only one Italian out of three can speak a foreign language and more than half declare that they have no intention of learning one.

These were the results of a survey done by Italian research company Censis in conjunction with Letitfly, an European language research group.

Half of all the interviewees claimed to have only a scholastic level of a foreign language and only seven per cent considered their knowledge of the foreign tongue to be "very good". The study revealed that foreign languages were better known in northern Italy and spoken less in the south. Of those who spoke a foreign language, 53.5 percent spoke English, 37.1 per cent spoke French, four per cent spoke German and 2.8 spoke Spanish.

Among the remaining 3 per cent is Italian the fifth most widely spoken foreign language in the country due to the extensive presence of immigrant communities in Italy as well as Russian, Chinese and Arabic. Only four per cent of interviewees can speak three languages, the survey found. On average only half the citizens in the European Union can converse in a foreign language.