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The Netherlands ranks 3rd in English proficiency levels

Rankings 4 April 2013, 14:44

Education First, a private company focusing on the link between education and language skills across the globe, recently released its 2012 English Proficiency Index (EPI) report. This report measures the English proficiency of people in non-English speaking countries. The Netherlands ranks 3rd globally.

Students of Dutch university
Dutch students

Education First, a private company focusing on the link between education and language skills across the globe, recently released its 2012 English Proficiency Index (EPI) report. This report measures the English proficiency of people in non-English speaking countries. Around 1.7 million people in 54 countries were tested over a period of 3 years (from 2009 to 2011).

The Netherlands in the rankings

The Netherlands, where around 5,000 people were tested, ranked 3rd globally, confirming its status as a European cultural centre and an excellent place to study English. The country scored 66.32 with only Denmark (67.96) and Sweden (68.91) scoring better.

A previous version of the report was released in 2011 in which The Netherlands was in 2nd place with a score of 67.93, beaten only by Norway (69.09).

Where does Europe stand?

European countries ranked better than most, forming the top 11 scores worldwide. The report suggests that this may be because of the focus on multilingualism within the European Union. With so many different languages being used within Europe, the increasing use of English by most nations makes communication much easier. This is evident in the fact that all Schengen Area countries that were tested scored between moderate and very high in the EPI.

The north of Europe seems to be doing particularly well. The report attributes this fact to the cultural importance that English seems to hold in this region, with many television programmes not being dubbed over but simply sub-titled in the country’s language. Politicians and students also work primarily in English, making it a very important language in terms of politics and education. Countries in central Europe are also seeing a rise in the proficiency levels with this group being second in terms of high proficiency.

The report does suggest that there is still room for improvement and advises European countries to continue to focus on a strong level of English for citizens in all countries.

The effects of English

The EPI report highlights a connection between English proficiency and economic wealth. More foreign investment, innovation, exports, and a higher income are visible in countries where English levels are high.

The globalisation of the world has also played a huge factor in the popularity and necessity of English as a form of communication in the workplace. The EPI has shown that young professionals, aged 25-35, tend to speak English best out of any other groups. The report also shows that industries that function in a global environment, such as consulting and tourism, have a higher English proficiency level, unlike nationally-focused industries.

There is however a gender gap in levels of proficiency in which the general trend seems to show women having higher levels than men. The average global proficiency for women is 53.90, whereas men are a little lower at 52.14. In Europe, the gap is just slightly greater where the average proficiency level for women is at 61.24, with men scoring 59.94.

The full report is available on the Education First EPI page: http://www.ef.com/ca/epi.

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Comments (1) Comment the article

08/04/2013, 13:01 # Roland

Knowledge of English is fine,it is when English "contaminates" the Dutch language a line should be drawn. Especially annoying are commercial uses of English.

Stores no longer have a "uitverkoop" in the Netherlands now we only have "sale" used because it apparently sounds fancier then uitverkoop.

This use of English, or abuse rather, should be banned.

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