English as she is spoke

English as she is spoke

NETHERLANDS: Dutch have the highest proficiency in English as a second language Photo credit: CC/Marc Ober

IT has been a long time since the English language was the exclusive property of the English or the British, come to that.

As the world’s most-common second language, English eases communication problems worldwide although an annual survey by global education company, Education First (EF), revealed that travellers and tourists will find it easier to make themselves understood in some countries than others.

According to EF’s analysis of Standard English Tests that were taken by 2.2 million adults in 113 countries last year, the Netherlands were once again top of the class both in Europe and worldwide.

Singapore came second, followed by Austria , Denmark, Norway and Sweden in that order.  Belgium, Portugal, South Africa, Germany, Croatia and Greece also came into EF’s “very high proficiency” category.

Poland headed the “high proficiency” list, ahead of Finland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia, after which there was a considerable gap before the appearance of another European country, with Switzerland in 30th place.

Interestingly, some of the most popular European tourist destinations did less well. Spain and Italy shared 35th place in the “ moderate proficiency” category but were beaten by Georgia and Belarus who were ranked 32nd and 33rd respectively. France slipped to 43rd place, the lowest of all the Northern European countries included in the EF study. Turkey, an increasingly popular tourist destination, trailed in 66th place.

The EF study nevertheless found that despite the mediocre positions occupied by Spain, Italy and France, standards were much higher in Madrid, Rome and Paris, their capital cities.

The same survey also had something to say about native English-speakers’ “complacency” regarding language studies.

“Only 32 per cent of 15 to 30-year-olds in the UK said they could confidently read and write in two or more languages,” Education First said.

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Written by

Linda Hall

Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.