Czech Republic falls to fourth-worst in EU in English proficiency

Only France, Italy, and Spain have lower levels of English than the Czech Republic, according to the 2021 English Proficiency Index

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 20.11.2021 09:58 (updated on 24.11.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech Republic has fallen to the bottom of a new ranking of English-language fluency. According to the latest 2021 English Proficiency Index published by Education First, only France, Spain, and Italy rank lower than the Czech Republic among EU countries.

Worldwide, the Czech Republic fell from 19th in last year's rankings down to 27 this year. The drop by eight places in 2021 rankings was the largest seen by any European country this year.

Despite the fall, the Czech Republic is still considered to have a "high" level of English proficiency. France also makes the cutoff for high, coming in at #31 in the rankings. Spain (33) and Italy (35) rate a "moderate" level of English proficiency, according to Education First.

Published for the eleventh year, the 2021 English Proficiency Index combines testing data collected from 2.2 million people across 112 countries that do not consider English to be their native language.

For the second year in a row, the Netherlands topped the rankings of English proficiency. Austria, Denmark, Singapore, and Norway round out the top five countries.

Compared to 2020, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Greece all passed the Czech Republic in the latest English proficiency rankings. Outside of Europe, Kenya and the Philippines both rated higher in English-language skills than the Czech Republic.

At #27 worldwide, the Czech Republic ranked lower in this year's English Proficiency Index than in any previous year. The country came in at #19 (out of 44 countries) in 2011 and hit a high of #11 (out of 54 countries) in 2012.

In the Czech Republic, the highest levels of English proficiency are seen by those aged 21-25. For this age group, English-language scores on online tests have increased by around 30% since 2015.

There is a large dropoff in English-language skills for Czechs over the age of 40, but this age group is also improving compared to past years.

"This trend goes against the long-held notion that languages ​​are easy for young people to learn and that progress is impossible from a certain age," Education First's Veronika Valčíková stated in a press release.

"If adults have sufficient social or economic motivation and regularly experience practical situations where they are confronted with language, they can use their language to improve significantly at any age."

According to Valčíková, knowledge of English has a direct correlation with living standards for those in the Czech Republic. Many international corporations operating in the Czech Republic require a certain level of English proficiency, and jobs requiring higher levels of English tend to come with higher salaries.

"The better the English, the better the living conditions," Valčíková states.

See the complete results of the 2021 English Proficiency Index at the website of Education First.

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