Dutch lead world in 2016 English proficiency ranking

The Netherlands ranks top in EF’s English Proficiency Index (EPI); the world’s largest ranking of countries according to their level of English.

About the study

Every year Education First (EF) conducts a study to see which non-native countries rank the highest in English. This year marked the sixth edition, testing almost a million adults across 72 countries. The study has two parts:

The first takes into consideration the relationship between English and its relationship to various socio-economic factors.
It found that English remains a key factor in securing higher incomes, as well as allowing professionals to connect more to different environments and thus, equating to a better quality of life. It also found that women, on average, have stronger English skills than men.

The second looks at the proficiency across four continents: Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Unfortunately, the study’s methodology is somewhat limited in that it uses multiple choice questions to test reading and listening skills rather than looking at spoken fluency or written ability, often considered more important. 

EF 2016 Ranking

European prevalence

Comparing proficiency across continents, Europe remains in the lead. Traditionally, Scandinavian countries have soared to the top, yet this year, the Netherlands broke that trend. Interestingly, 2016 also saw the first Asian country, Singapore, join the highest proficiency band. 

Compare your country

Are you curious to find out where your country ranks? EF have published all the data on their EPI website

Top 10 EF English Proficiency Index 2016

1. The Netherlands
2. Denmark
3. Sweden
4. Norway
5. Finland
6. Singapore
7. Luxembourg
8. Austria
9. Germany
10. Poland

Kiri Scully


Kiri Scully

Raised a global citizen, to an Irish father and American mother, Kiri has lived and worked in five countries over three continents. Fuelled by culture curiosity at an early age,...

Read more



Leave a comment