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Danes ‘fourth-best’ non-native English speakers in Europe

The Local Denmark
The Local Denmark - [email protected]
Danes ‘fourth-best’ non-native English speakers in Europe
Danes are, on average, among the world's most proficient English speakers. Illustration photo Kevin Curtis on Unsplash

Denmark is currently the fourth-best country in Europe at speaking English outside of Anglophone countries, according to an international index.

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A study conducted by language school empire Education First (EF) in its latest English Proficiency Index found that Danes rank number 4 out of 35 countries in Europe for English proficiency.

The Netherlands, Norway and Austria were ranked higher than Denmark. Nordic neighbour Sweden was sixth-highest in Europe, with Belgium at number 5.

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Globally, Denmark placed fifth, with Singapore rated as the second-best non-majority English speaking country in the world, behind only the Netherlands.

In terms of how the Nordic nation’s level compares on the global scale, Denmark was classed in the uppermost “very high” level of English proficiency, in the same range as Finland, Portugal, Germany, Croatia, South Africa and Poland, as well as the countries in the top six mentioned above.

The index grades proficiency in five levels from “very high” to “very low”.

People with this very high-level English are able to use nuanced and appropriate language in social situations, read advanced texts with ease and negotiate a contract with a native English speaker.

A proficiency band indicates the level of the “average” person, EF states.

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Countries are given overall scores between 200 and 800 in the index. While top-ranking country the Netherlands scored 661, Denmark’s average score was 625.

The Danish score is also broken down regionally in the index. Copenhagen fares best here, scoring 664. The Greater Copenhagen region gets 634, with South Denmark scoring 624 and Central Jutland 622. No scores are given for Zealand or North Jutland.

Denmark has never been outside of the top 5 countries since the global index began in 2011. It was ranked first in 2014, second in 2020 and third last year.

The number of countries included in the index has gradually increased from 44 in 2011 to 111 in the latest issue.

“English proficiency in Europe continues to rise at an average rate of 6 points per year, making it the most improved region since 2011 despite starting from a relatively high base,” the report states.

“This year’s increase was driven by large Low and Moderate proficiency countries such as Italy, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. The rate of improvement within the EU was slower,” it said.

The report is based on a comparison of English skills measured by testing 2.1 million people who took EF’s English tests in 2021.

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