• Sweden edition
 
Swedish students excel at English: study

Swedish students excel at English: study

Published: 21 Jun 2012 11:53 GMT+02:00
Updated: 21 Jun 2012 11:53 GMT+02:00

The results, presented on Thursday by the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket), show that Swedish students are very advanced in the English language.

A total of 66 percent of 15-year-olds reached the highest required level in reading comprehension, while 77 percent did the same for listening comprehension.

However, Swedish students didn't perform as well when it came to writing in English. While only 28 percent reached the highest score level in written English, a large number of Swedish students reached the next to highest level.

While the study included students from 14 countries, only students from Sweden and France were tested in Spanish, with Swedish pupils posting much weaker results.

24 percent of Swedish students didn’t reach what is required of beginner level Spanish in reading comprehension.

For listening comprehension the result was 37 percent and for written Spanish 45 percent. The French students were somewhat better at Spanish than the Swedes, the study found.

According to the education agency, the discrepancy between students’ abilities in English and Spanish can have several explanations. English is a higher status language and is also perceived as more useful.

In addition, students are more likely to come in contact with English in their spare time, according to the agency.

Swedes are exposed to the language at a younger age, and English classes are obligatory in Swedish schools.

The countries that took part in the study were Sweden, Belgium, Poland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Britain, Estonia, France, Greece, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain.

A total of 53,000 students were tested, of which 3,000 were Swedish. All countries took part with the two foreign languages studied by the largest number of students.

The children’s language skills were measures after the common reference for language skills in Europe and the student’s abilities were graded into five levels of proficiency.

TT/The Local/rm

twitter.com/thelocalsweden

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

12:43 June 21, 2012 by Shibumi
Wow... they needed a study to come up with this?

French kids suck at English because all TV and movies are dubbed into French. They are better at Spanish because, like French, it is also a romance language and as such, Spanish is basically mis-pronounced French with added "a"s and "o"s on the end of words.

Swedish kids rock at English because only children's movies are dubbed and they are exposed to a lot of English from a young age.
13:57 June 21, 2012 by Frobobbles
It is astonishing that the Swedish kids are so good in Spanish!
14:24 June 21, 2012 by skogsbo
The question to ask is why are they still teaching Spanish, would it not be better to teach German as a 3rd language, or any of the Asian languages. Spanish provides a balance between different bases of language, but is of little long term use.
15:28 June 21, 2012 by riose
@skogsbo

When you have children you can teach them Korean.

North Korea is a virgin market.
16:16 June 21, 2012 by sergisr
Even in its country Spanish is considered a low status language. Here in Barcelona you can guess the sociocultural level of people according to the language they speak mainly, Catalan or Spanish.
17:09 June 21, 2012 by Ron Pavellas
As a native English speaker, I am ever grateful to the many Swedes I have met who are so excellent in English. I have lived here for ten years and do not feel alien, despite my extreme deficiency in the Swedish language.
18:29 June 21, 2012 by Tarc the Mexan
#6: you've lived in Sweden for ten years and still can't speak the language properly?

What the hell is wrong with you?
19:30 June 21, 2012 by towns
Yep, I lived as an ex-pat in several European countries so far and Swedes are definitely the best in English (of at least the countries I've been to). In general, knowledge of vocabulary and pronunciation is top notch!

Also, I endorse Shibumi's comment. Sub-titles work MUCH better than dubs when it comes to being competent in English. I've noticed this from being in Italy and the Czech Republic (were dubbing is the norm) vs. Sweden and Finland where subtitles are preferred.
21:40 June 21, 2012 by thomasson44
In most countries where movies are not dubbed, children have the possibility to be more acquainted with the English language and improve their skills. In the Netherlands and Belgium, all movies are sub-titled. At the time my children were very young, I had experimented by letting them watch children programs at the BBC and Sky TV (was available on our cable). To my astonishment they had learned the language just by watching.
22:22 June 21, 2012 by dizzymoe33
That is how my German mother learned to speak English was by watching TV. Overall English is easy to learn the only thing that is difficult is when you use a word that has two different meanings that can be confusing.
10:27 June 22, 2012 by Marc the Texan
English will soon be the national language of Sweden. Swedes brought it on themselves and they seem to have few worries about it. Give it a couple more generations and the children of Sweden will not know how to, nor want to speak Swedish. I've already seen huge changes in my exposure to Sweden, which has only been about 12 years.
12:24 June 22, 2012 by Greysuede
It's a great shame that Swedish kids aren't taught good German, Spanish and Chinese !

English language is a widespread propaganda to glorify the violence, pornography, drugs and all sort of english lawlifeness !
12:33 June 22, 2012 by calebian22
LOL, Tarc. No frigging kidding. Ten years is a long time to still be so deficient. Apparently I speak like Tony Irving, something I am furiously working on too change, but at least people understand me after 3.5 years.
12:35 June 22, 2012 by HelmiVainikka
#10 Actually thats more or less how it worked for me as well.

When I was in 4th grade maaaaaaany many years back we got a satellite dish on the roof of our house and with it, came a flood of english speaking channels.

I found them fascinating and watched those more than anything else, worked like a charm.

Countries should remove dubs completely and simply subtitle-on-demand the content and within 1-2 generations all of Europe would be excellent at English.

It is not a hard language to begin with.
21:38 June 22, 2012 by glamelixir
Yes, they don't say "how much is the clock", "the clock is too late" or "I will learn you something" any more...
21:20 June 29, 2012 by Exolon
Yeah, as a native English speaker, I was always amazed at how comfortable Swedes are at speaking English.

Here in Ireland, most of us can barely speak our own language, so it's a bit embarrassing and humbling to meet so many Swedish people who are totally fluent at English and (of course) their own language.
20:31 July 1, 2012 by Tom Windsor
Well done Sweden! Other parts of Europe are clearly not as good at English. It would be good if Sweden were to take steps to promote and use the planned international language Esperanto.

Esperanto is even easier than English for Swedes to speak.
Today's headlines
National
Northern Swedes wake up to September snow

Northern Swedes wake up to September snow

Summer has come to a definite end in Kiruna as residents of the northern town were greeted with a blanket of snow on Sunday morning. READ  

Elections 2014
Ex-Prime Minister: Sweden is falling apart
Former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson. Photo: Leo Sellén/TT

Ex-Prime Minister: Sweden is falling apart

Former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson has said that the election success of the Sweden Democrats is a "slap" in the face for the Stockholm establishment. READ  

National
Trio prosecuted for hate attack against Somalis
Somali nationals taking part in a demonstration against deportations in Stockholm. File photo:Björn Larsson Ask/SvD/ TT

Trio prosecuted for hate attack against Somalis

Three young men in southern Sweden suspected of attacking Somali refugees with stones and screaming "sieg heil" have been indicted on charges of racial agitation. READ  

National
Swedish airfares to get cheaper in 2015

Swedish airfares to get cheaper in 2015

Sweden is set to buck the European trend of rising air prices with fares expected to drop next year according to a new report. READ  

National
Swede's homemade submarine nets fortune
Eric Westerberg's homemade submarine Isabelle. Photo: PS.nu

Swede's homemade submarine nets fortune

A Swedish submarine enthusiast who spent over 3,500 hours making his own vessel has sold his prized possession for 705,000 kronor ($98,500) in an online auction. READ  

National
Cops reported for making 'Roma' comment

Cops reported for making 'Roma' comment

Police in northern Sweden have been reported to the Equality Ombudsman for describing a wanted suspect as having a "Roma appearance." READ  

Donald Duck and Zlatan get Swedish votes
A political career for Zlatan? Some fans seem to want to see that. Photo: Peter Dejong/TT

Donald Duck and Zlatan get Swedish votes

The Bilderberg Group, the Satanic Initiative and Adolf Hitler all received votes in Sweden’s general election, according to a list released by the country’s electoral authority. READ  

Sport
Stockholm fails bid to host Euro 2020 games
The Swedish team in action. Photo: TT

Stockholm fails bid to host Euro 2020 games

Sweden's capital has missed out on a chance to host any Euro 2020 games, with Copenhagen the only Scandinavian city among the thirteen winning locations. READ  

Vicar: God rejects fans of women priests
Antje Jackelén, Archbishop of Uppsala, is the first woman to head the Swedish church. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Vicar: God rejects fans of women priests

A Swedish priest has been fired after telling his congregation that people who support female priests would be rejected by God - despite the fact that his own church is led by a woman. READ  

Analysis
Women set to dominate top post-election jobs
Margot Wallström (right) could become Stefan Löfven's new Minister of Foreign Affairs. Photo: TT

Women set to dominate top post-election jobs

Sweden could soon get a female Foreign Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt's ousted Moderate Party is preparing for its first woman leader and the grandmother of actor Hugh Grant's son is being tipped as Parliament's next Speaker. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
The 'black gold' of Sweden's west coast.
National
West Sweden prepares for the 2014 lobster premiere
Society
What's on in Sweden
Politics
How Sweden Democrats went mainstream
Politics
Scandinavia and Scotland: closer links?
Gallery
Property of the week - Eskilstuna
Blog updates

20 September

How a Frog Can Save the Environment (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"What we do we imagine when we think of children enjoying nature? Perhaps it’s fishing, marveling at lightning bugs on a muggy July day or blowing on the wispy petals of a dandelion to make a special wish. But perhaps most iconic of the playful innocence in childhood is hopping after and trying to catch..." READ »

 

19 September

Editor’s blog (The Local Sweden) »

"Happy Friday readers! It sure has been a exciting week in Sweden, where we’re set to get a new Prime Minister after Fredrik Reinfeldt stepped down following Sunday’s elections. The Local blogged live from the key political gatherings across Stockholm. Why not re-visit the action by taking a look at our photos, tweets, videos and analysis? Since the..." READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
How to start a business in Stockholm
Society
How I became a surf blogger when I moved to Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 13th
Society
Why is Stockholm's Södermalm so cool?
Gallery
People-watching: September 11th
Gallery
People-watching: September 13th
Politics
Five possible election outcomes
Politics
Sweden elections: How do they work?
Politics
Sweden elections: Who's who?
Gallery
Property of the week - Hornstull, Stockholm
Analysis
Five differences between the UK and Sweden
Welshman Jonny Luck is now a chef in Sweden
Society
How I opened my own restaurant in Sweden's Malmö
Sponsored Article
Stockholm tech fest: relive the magic
Gallery
People-watching September 8th
Photo: TT
Politics
Feminists fight for first seats
Politics
Immigration cut push from Sweden Democrats
Sheryl Sandberg says women have "low expectations"
Tech
Facebook exec talks women's limits in Swedish business
Politics
Left Party calls for justice and equality
Politics
Green Party wants 'better world' for kids
Lifestyle
The five best Swedish songs of the month
Sponsored Article
Introducing… Insurance in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Graduates: Insure your income in Sweden with AEA
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

866
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN