EF’s Global Ranking of English Skills Shows Netherlands Still on Top

The Netherlands still has the world’s best non-native English speakers, according to the EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI) released today by EF Education First. This year’s EF EPI results were first announced at a reception in the U.K.’s House of Commons.

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“Given the vast sums that parents, governments, and companies invest in English training, the EF EPI serves as a valuable resource for sparking a discussion on the best ways to improve a country’s English level,” said Minh N. Tran, EF Senior Director of Research. “In today’s global economy, the advantages of learning English transcend borders.”

The EF EPI 2017 ranks 80 countries and territories based on data from more than one million adults who took the EF Standard English Test (EF SET), the world’s first free standardized English test. The EF SET provides language learners access to a high-quality, standardized English test. The EF SET has been used worldwide by thousands of schools, companies, and governments, where large-scale testing was previously cost prohibitive.

Highlights of the EF EPI 2017 include:

  • For the first time, Africa is included in the EF EPI as a distinct region with nine African countries represented. The region has the largest gender gap, with African women outperforming men and scoring above the global average.
  • Europe leads the world in English proficiency, with eight European countries in the top 10. The Middle East occupies the lowest ranks.
  • Asia has the world’s second best proficiency, but the largest gap between individual country scores.
  • Colombia, Guatemala, and Panama all improved enough to break out of the Very Low Proficiency band. Despite significant spending on education within Latin America, the region still performs below global averages.
  • Worldwide, women speak English better than men, although the gap is narrower for some world regions than in previous editions of the EF EPI.
  • English proficiency is linked to economic competitiveness, social development, and innovation. Countries with higher English proficiency tend to have higher average incomes, better quality of life, and greater investment in research and development.

The EF English Proficiency Index for Schools (EF EPI-s), a companion report to the EF EPI, was also released today. The EF EPI-s examines the acquisition of English skills by secondary and tertiary students from 26 countries.

The EF EPI and EF EPI-s reports and country fact sheets are available for download at The full EF EPI 2017 ranking is below.

About EF Education First 

EF Education First is an international education company that focuses on language, academics, and cultural experience. Founded in 1965, EF’s mission is “opening the world through education.” EF has more than 500 schools and offices in over 50 countries.

EF English Proficiency Index 2017:

    Rank  Country              EF EPI Proficiency Band
    1     Netherlands          Very High
    2     Sweden               Very High
    3     Denmark              Very High
    4     Norway               Very High
    5     Singapore            Very High
    6     Finland              Very High
    7     Luxembourg           Very High
    8     South Africa         Very High
    9     Germany              High
    10    Austria              High
    11    Poland               High
    12    Belgium              High
    13    Malaysia             High
    14    Switzerland          High
    15    Philippines          High
    16    Serbia               High
    17    Romania              High
    18    Portugal             High
    19    Hungary              High
    20    Czech Republic       High
    21    Slovakia             High
    22    Bulgaria             Moderate
    23    Greece               Moderate
    24    Lithuania            Moderate
    25    Argentina            Moderate
    26    Dominican Republic   Moderate
    27    India                Moderate
    28    Spain                Moderate
    29    Hong Kong            Moderate
    30    South Korea          Moderate
    31    Nigeria              Moderate
    32    France               Moderate
    33    Italy                Moderate
    34    Vietnam              Moderate
    35    Costa Rica           Moderate
    36    China                Low
    37    Japan                Low
    38    Russia               Low
    39    Indonesia            Low
    40    Taiwan               Low
    41    Brazil               Low
    42    Macau                Low
    43    Uruguay              Low
    44    Mexico               Low
    45    Chile                Low
    46    Bangladesh           Low
    47    Ukraine              Low
    48    Cuba                 Low
    49    Panama               Low
    50    Peru                 Low
    51    Colombia             Low
    52    Pakistan             Low
    53    Thailand             Low
    54    Guatemala            Low
    55    Ecuador              Low
    56    Tunisia              Low
    57    United Arab Emirates Low
    58    Syria                Very Low
    59    Qatar                Very Low
    60    Morocco              Very Low
    61    Sri Lanka            Very Low
    62    Turkey               Very Low
    63    Jordan               Very Low
    64    Azerbaijan           Very Low
    65    Iran                 Very Low
    66    Egypt                Very Low
    67    Kazakhstan           Very Low
    68    Venezuela            Very Low
    69    El Salvador          Very Low
    70    Oman                 Very Low
    71    Mongolia             Very Low
    72    Saudi Arabia         Very Low
    73    Angola               Very Low
    74    Kuwait               Very Low
    75    Cameroon             Very Low
    76    Algeria              Very Low
    77    Cambodia             Very Low
    78    Libya                Very Low
    79    Iraq                 Very Low
    80    Laos                 Very Low

SOURCE EF Education First (EF)

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