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English proficiency: Poles rank first, Czechs last in Central Europe

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Warsaw, Poland – Poles are the best English speakers in Central Europe, according to the EF English Proficiency Index 2021.

The international study, based on the test results of over 2 million adults from all around the world, looks at the level of English fluency and proficiency in more than 110 non-native speaking countries, placing surveyed countries and territories into five different brands (from very high proficiency to very low).

Native-speaking countries such as the US, the UK or Canada are evidently not taken into account.

The top end of the ranking is largely dominated by European countries, especially Nordic states, with the Netherlands taking the top spot as the most non-native English fluent country in the world, followed by Austria, Denmark, Singapore, and Norway.

The rest of the top 10 is made up of Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, and Croatia.

Ranked 16th worldwide and 12th among EU countries, Poland comes first among Visegrad countries, just ahead of Hungary (17th in the world).

Previous studies had already ranked Poles among Europe’s most fluent non-native speakers, suggesting Poles would be more able to perform advanced written and oral tasks in English, including in a professional setting.

Still ranked among “high proficiency countries”, neighbouring Slovakia (20th) and the Czech Republic (27th) come slightly behind, with the latter ranked among the last EU member states – beating only southern European trio France, Spain and Italy.

Worldwide, the index found that overall English proficiency has slightly increased over the past twelve months, with men’s proficiency outpacing women’s for the first time since 2014 and adults over the age of 30 improving the quickest.

Note that the Czech Republic reported one of the largest gender gaps in English proficiency levels, with men significantly outscoring women on average.

Looking at the scores in big cities, where English proficiency is almost always higher than in the countryside or smaller urban areas, the top 3 is dominated by Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Helsinki, while Budapest and Warsaw are both placed in the “very high proficiency” brand.

You can find the study’s complete results and recommendations here.