We no speak Americano: Switzerland falls in English proficiency ranking

We no speak Americano: Switzerland falls in English proficiency ranking

Switzerland has dropped significantly in the new English Proficiency Index (EPI) from EF, a measure of English proficiency in reading and writing worldwide. The alpine nation has fallen from 18th to 25th in the 2021 ranking.

Speaking English seen as integral for global work

The survey tested the populations of 112 different countries and measured how well each nation's population spoke English. Over 2 million people worldwide took the test, spanning Europe, Asia, Africa, South and Central America.

The report found that global proficiency for learning English has increased slowly from last year, with 16 nations seeing their test scores improve. They found that English has become more of a necessity in work, as better-paid jobs, particularly in international companies, usually require some grasp of English.

People in Swiss cities most likely to speak English

Despite scoring in the high proficiency range, Switzerland’s position declined from 18th to 25th in the 2021 rankings. Swiss cities were the most proficient among areas in Switzerland, with Zurich ranking 17th in the ranking of cities around the world.

Switzerland’s ranking fell the third-most among the countries surveyed, with only Czechia and Finland falling faster. However, it must be noted that the survey does not explicitly say Switzerland’s English language skills have gotten worse, especially as English is an integral subject in the Swiss school system and there are many language schools to teach adults English, German, French or Italian.

EF English Proficiency Index 2021 top 10

The top 10 of the list was occupied by highly developed nations in Europe and Asia. The Netherlands topped the ranking once again, showing an increased proficiency for understanding and speaking English. The top 10 for 2021 are:

  • 1. The Netherlands
  • 2. Austria
  • 3. Denmark
  • 4. Singapore
  • 5. Norway
  • 6. Belgium
  • 7. Portugal
  • 8. Sweden
  • 9. Finland
  • 10. Croatia

For the full, comprehensive list, you can check out the official website.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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