Global Economy
Nordic countries lead in English proficiency; Switzerland and France are laggards
By Finfacts Team
Nov 13, 2014 - 7:53 AM

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The Nordic countries - Denmark (1), Sweden (3), Finland (4) and Norway (5) are leaders in English proficiency with the Netherlands in second place and Poland in sixth place in the latest international rankings while Switzerland (18) is behind German speaking Austria (7) and Germany (10) and France (29 behind Indonesia, is also a laggard.

Malaysia and Singapore are at twelfth and thirteenth ranks with Japan at 26th and China at 37th.

The ranking issued on Wednesday by EF Education First, an international education company, ranked the English skills of 750,000 non-native speakers around the world. Denmark to Austria were classed as “very high” while North African and Middle Eastern adults were near the bottom.

According to the study:

  • Worldwide women speak better English women than men, in almost every country assessed. This male knowledge gap is significant enough to have an impact on the workplace. The understanding of the causes of the poorer English skills of men is the first step to finding a solution.
  • Globally, adults in the middle of their careers have stronger English skills than any other age group. These findings raise questions about the professional capacity of young graduates. They also illustrate that adults can improve their skills outside of a traditional school environment.
  • The English power in Europe remains significantly higher than in other regions and continues to improve.
  • Asian countries have a wide range of power levels from high to very low. Dramatic progress exist alongside persistent stagnation.
  • Almost all countries in Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa have low or very low English proficiency. Even if a few countries in these regions are improving, this is not for most.
  • There are strong interactions between English proficiency and income, quality of life, "Ease of Doing Business", Internet usage and number of years of schooling. These interactions are remarkably stable over time.

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