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Belgium in top 10 of countries ranked by spoken English skills
While the three official languages of Belgium are French, Dutch, and German, the Belgians also seem to be doing well when it comes to speaking English. This is reflected in a report by the language learning service Education First (EF), which ranked 100 countries according to the skills of its citizens in speaking the language of Shakespeare.
More than a million people around the world consider English to be their second language. Hundreds of millions more consider it as a third or fourth language.
However, the level of language skills in the different countries where one learns English and where it is not an official language differs greatly. Some 54 countries have English as the official language while for others, their exposure comes from learning it at school, by oneself or while travelling.
When it comes to speaking English, the Belgians can be proud of themselves since they rank ninth in the EF ranking of 100 countries. Belgium even ranks among those where there is a "very high competence" in speaking English.
Out of the city rankings, Brussels comes in at place 11, still in the "very high competence" category. Copenhagen, the Danish capital, is ranked first.
Each year, EF draws up the same ranking that assesses the level of English spoken by citizens around the world. To create the annual report, the language learning service uses the data it collects throughout the year when testing individuals. It gives each country a rating, which then ranks them in relation to the others. A total of 2.2 million adults tested via EF in 2019.
The latest report ranks the Netherlands in first place as the most gifted when it comes to speaking English. Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Norway follow. Belgium comes in ninth, preceded by Germany and followed by Singapore. This is a marked improvement for Belgium since it ranked 13th last year.
The top nine countries are all European. The countries of the European Union all have "very high" or "high" competences, with the exception of Italy and Spain which have "moderate" English skills.
The report also compares the level of English according to certain criteria. Among them: gender. While women dominated in terms of results in previous editions of the report, the gap tends to close with the 2020 edition.
EF also points out that it is the youngest age groups who speak English the best in all countries ranked. In Europe, test respondents aged 21 to 25 dominate the rankings followed by the 26-30 age group. Then there are individuals between the ages of 31 and 40. The last two age groups, 41 and over and 18-20 years old, have results much lower than the first three categories.
According to EF, the strong ability of graduate students and young workers to have a good level of English is evidence of the importance of this language at the world's universities.