Czechs rank 20th worldwide in English skills, but Poland leads in the CEE region

The Czech Republic has a high level of English proficiency but has room to improve. Women scored slightly better than men

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 20.06.2019 11:17:00 (updated on 07.12.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

Czechs rank as being highly skilled in English, coming in 20th out of 88 countries in the world, and 17th in Europe.

The best country
(not counting Britain), according to the annual EF English
Proficiency Index (EF EPI), was Sweden, followed by the Netherlands.
The only non-European countries in the top 25 were Singapore at No.
3, South Africa at No. 6, the Philippines at No. 14 and Malaysia at
No. 22.

Czechs were better
than people in Hungary (21), Slovakia (24) and Lithuania (26). From
the CEE region, the countries that beat Czechs are Poland (13),
Romania (16), Croatia (17) and Serbia (18).

The worst performing
European counties were all in the east: Albania (52), Georgia (45),
Ukraine (43), Russia (42) and Belarus (38). Worldwide, the worst
countries were Libya (88), Iraq (87) and Uzbekistan (86).

Among countries in Western Europe, the worst performers were all Romance-language speakers: France (35), Italy (34), and Spain (32). There were exceptions, though. Spain’s neighbor Portugal just beat the Czechs, coming in at 19th place, and already-mentioned Romania was 16th.

The Czech Republic was also 20th in the previous ranking, but that was out of only 80 countries worldwide. It is hard to track any trend of improvement, since the rankings have been based on different numbers of countries each year. In 2011, the first year of the rankings, and in 2013 and ’14, the Czech Republic was ranked as “moderate.” In all other years it ranked as “high.”

In the current ranking, the Czech Republic had a score of 59.9, compared to Sweden’s winning 70.72. There is a gender gap, with Czech women, scoring 60.21 slightly ahead of Czech men, at 59.24.

The makers of the
ranking, language educational firm EF Education First, claim that
higher English proficiency leads to higher income, higher quality of
life, greater ease of doing business and more innovation.

“For companies, English is a key component of remaining competitive and fostering innovation in an internationalized marketplace. As English becomes necessary for ever more interactions in the globalized world, the value of proficiency in the language grows apparent, and the cost of not speaking English grows steeper,” the report’s executive summary stated.

“Less than a
quarter of the world’s English speakers are ‘natives,’ and that
proportion will continue to decline as more people learn English as
an additional language. Already, experts estimate that the majority
of the world’s population speaks two or more languages,” the
summary added.

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Women outperform men worldwide

One finding of the
report is that in general, women speak better English than men. “This
finding has been true for all eight EF EPI indices. … Research into
how boys and girls learn foreign languages has shown that female
students are more motivated, use a wider variety of strategies to
retain new information, and are more willing to make mistakes,” EF
stated.

“Women on the
whole are also more likely than men to finish secondary school and
attend university. Unfortunately, businesses are not benefiting as
much as they could from women’s English skills. Studies have shown
that women speak less in meetings and negotiations than men and are
interrupted more when they do speak,” EF added.

Managers also spoke
better English than executives or staff, and people in their 20s
spoke the best English. Europe had the highest proficiency, while
Africa has been improving and Asia has been stagnating.

This eighth edition
of the EF EPI is based on test data from more than 1.3 million test
takers around the world who took the EF Standard English Test (EF
SET).

EF Education First
is an international education company that focuses on language,
academics, cultural exchange, and educational travel. It was founded
in 1965 and has more than 500 schools and offices in more than 50
countries.

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