Netherlands, Rotterdam top list of highest English proficiency globally

The Rotterdam skyline
The Rotterdam skyline in 2017Photo: Violin/DepositPhotos

Residents of the Netherlands are the best non-native English speakers in the world, according to the EF English Proficiency Index. The residents of Rotterdam score best on their English proficiency, closely followed by Amsterdam and The Hague. 

EF tested the English proficiency of 2.3 million adults in 100 countries and over 400 cities and regions this year. The Netherlands came out on top with an overall English proficiency score of 70.27, moving up from last year's second place. Women in the Netherlands are slightly better English speakers than men, with a proficiency score of 70.37 compared to men's 70.09. 

Rotterdam has the Netherlands' best English speakers with an proficiency score of 71.68, closely followed by Amsterdam at 71.35 and The Hague at 71.27. It therefore makes sense that the Dutch provinces with the highest English proficiency are Zuid-Holland (70.06), where Rotterdam and The Hague are located, and Noord-Holland (70.35), home of Amsterdam.

Second to fourth place in the world ranking are also filled by European countries - Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Singapore took fifth place, and South Africa sixth. Europe counts 12 countries with very high English proficiency. Singapore is the only Asian country and South Africa the only African country with very high proficiency in the English language. In Latin America, Argentina scored best with a 'high' proficiency in the English language. In the Middle East, Bahrain scored best with a 'low' proficiency. 

The country with the lowest English proficiency is Libya, followed by Kyrgyzstan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

This is the ninth edition of the EF English Proficiency Index, which has been published annually since 2011. The survey is funded by EF, or Education First Ltd., which says it supplies language courses and cultural exchange opportunities across the globe.


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