Brno speaks better English than Prague, says new language-proficiency index

A new ranking shows Czechs' English-language skills falling behind neighboring countries, including Slovakia.

ČTK

Written by ČTK Published on 08.11.2023 13:13:00 (updated on 08.11.2023) Reading time: 1 minute

A new English proficiency ranking released on Wednesday shows that the Czech Republic's English skills declined compared to last year with neighboring countries, particularly Slovakia, outranking Czechs in their ability to speak the English language.

A worsening from last year

The annual English Proficiency Index from EF Education First ranked the Czech Republic 26th out of 113 countries, down from 23rd in 2022. The index analyzes test scores from around 2 million non-native English speakers worldwide.

The neighboring countries of Austria, Germany, Poland, and Slovakia ranked third, 10th, 13th and 18th, respectively. Among European countries, the Czech Republic placed 21st.

Czechia in European context

1st: The Netherlands
2nd: Austria
3rd: Denmark
4th: Norway
5th: Sweden
21st: Czechia
26th: Spain
27th: Albania
28th: France
29th: Ukraine
30th: Turkey

Czechia in the context of the top and bottom five European countries by English proficiency.

Covid-19 hurt language learning

Sabina Wyrob from the Czech office of EF Education First said Czech children use outside-of-school language instruction less than their European peers. She added that online instruction during the Covid-19 pandemic hampered skills as students did not actively use English.

"Schools are trying to make up for lost time, but have not progressed," Wyrob said.

While the pandemic may have shuttered Czech schools for lengthy periods, Wyrob noted that neighboring Slovakia improved in the standings despite similar lockdowns, even the country's English abilities lagged behind the Czech Republic until 2020.

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This year, test scores in the Czech Republic fell to 565 points, from 575 in 2022. Regions outside Prague performed highest, with South Moravia ranking first followed by Moravia-Silesia. Brno, Czechia's second-largest city, scored above Prague.

English skills were best among 20-to-30-year-olds, improving for those aged 21-25 and over 40 but declining for the 26-30 age group. Long-term, proficiency dropped for 18-to-20-year-olds worldwide during the health crisis.

Experts say that broader cultural/social factors such as less overall exposure to English through media and travel are another factor that can impact language development.

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