The Dutch are the best non-native English speakers - again!

The Dutch are the best non-native English speakers - again!

The Netherlands has, yet again, nabbed the top spot in the rankings for English proficiency. Well done Dutchies!

EF English Proficiency Index 2020

The EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI) 2020 is the world’s largest ranking of countries, regions and cities by adult English language skills. EF calculates each score through three separate tests - two of which are available online for free, and the third is an online placement test used by EF during the enrolment process for English courses.

Every score for all of the tests taken was then normalised by EF in order to obtain the percentage of correct answers for each test. All the scores for each country / region were then averaged across the three tests in order to calculate an overall score. In the 2020 study, there were a total of 2,2 million test-takers, hailing from 100 different countries and regions. 

Source: EF

The Netherlands number one in the world for English proficiency

The EF EPI has awarded the Netherlands the number one spot for the second year in a row, with a total score of 652. Since 2011, the Netherlands has consistently achieved a top-three ranking, claiming the number one spot a total of four times (2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020). 

Amsterdam also performed well in the 2020 international city scores, coming in second place with a score of 656. Nationally, while Amsterdammers may be the best English speakers in the Netherlands, they are closely followed by Rotterdam and The Hague

One of the reasons EF cites for the Dutch speaking such good English is because the Dutch spend an average of 12 years of their lives at school (higher than the global average) where quite a lot of attention is paid to learning English. Furthermore, unlike neighbouring countries such as France and Germany, the Dutch don’t dub any of their films or TV programmes, so from quite a young age they are exposed to the language.

Marc Hollander, Country Manager EF Education First Netherlands, said in a statement: “It is great that the Netherlands has again managed to occupy the number one position this year. It has become clear that communication is key, especially in the challenging circumstances of the past year.”

Top 12 countries for English proficiency

According to EF’s 2020 report, the top 12 countries / regions around the world for English proficiency are: 

  1. The Netherlands - 652
  2. Denmark - 632
  3. Finland - 631
  4. Sweden - 625
  5. Norway - 624
  6. Austria - 623
  7. Portugal - 618
  8. Germany - 616
  9. Belgium - 612
  10. Singapore - 611
  11. Luxembourg - 610 
  12. South Africa - 607

For further information or to read the full report, visit EF's website.

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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