Swedes world's third best non-native English speakers

The Local
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Swedes world's third best non-native English speakers

Swedes are the world's third-best non-native English speakers, according to a new global ranking released on Tuesday.


The English Proficiency Index (EPI) from global language training company Education First (EF) put Sweden behind only the Netherlands and Denmark for non-native English proficiency.

Perhaps slightly annoyingly to the Swedes, they now lose their bragging rights over their neighbours the Danes. Last year Sweden topped the list as the world's best non-native English speakers.

Sweden's overall score of 70.81 out of a possible 100 represented a slight drop on last year, but according to EF the reason it failed to hold on to the crown had more to do with its rivals performing better this year.

"The Swedes have for the past years had a very high level of English, together with the other top countries in the EF EPI ranking. All five countries in the top have improved their English skills further in the past five years, but Netherlands has improved the most and is now number one this year and for the first time," Malin Ankarberg, Sweden head for EF Education First, told The Local.

Sweden was one of seven countries to recieve the 'very high' proficiency rank, along with fellow Nordic nations Denmark, Norway and Finland. Iceland was not included in the study.

Singapore also earned the 'very high' distinction as the first Asian country to do so in the history of the study.

READ ALSO: Ten ways talking in English baffles Swedes

The study also ranked the Swedish results on a regional basis, in which Gothenburgers and others in western Sweden scored the highest, closely followed by southern Sweden.

"Denmark has always been in the top three, and this year they improve further while Sweden stays on the same level as last year, which brings the two countries to almost the same level with Denmark just slightly above. When looking at the regional differences within Sweden, you see a pattern that goes hand in hand with this development, where the southern regions and Gothenburg show the best results and the northern parts are weaker in their English skills," said Ankarberg.

"I strongly believe that the proximity to Denmark and the rest of Europe plays an important role here. In the regions with a higher proficiency there is more exchange with the neighbouring countries, with Europe as a whole, in education as well as in business life."

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Among the study’s other findings were that women have better English skills than men in almost all countries, including Sweden. Perhaps not surprisingly, the 18-25 age group also performed best worldwide. 

At the bottom of the 72-country study were Laos, Libya and Iraq. 


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