Germans' English language skills rated highly in international comparison

Germans' English language skills rated highly in international comparison

A year after falling out of the top 10 for the first time since 2015, Germans have once again been named some of the best non-native English speakers in the world. The latest EF English Proficiency Index (EPI) has ranked Germany as the 10th-best country for English language skills, out of 111. 

Where in the world do people speak the best English?

Published each year, the EF English Proficiency Index uses results from a standardised English test, taken by more than 2,1 million people across 111 nations in 2021, to determine which countries are home to the best non-native speakers. The average scores of participants are used to calculate each country’s position on the ranking under four categories ranging from “very high” to “very low” proficiency

In 2022, 13 countries around the world were rated as having “very high proficiency”, including Germany. Once again, the 2022 ranking was topped by the Netherlands, which has claimed the number one spot for the last four years in a row. The top 10 is once again dominated by European countries, with the exception of Singapore.

Germany demonstrates strong English skills, but regional divisions

People in Germany must be working hard at their English lessons, because the federal republic has attained the “very high” proficiency band every year since 2018 - meaning that non-native English speakers in the country achieved an average EPI score of more than 600. According to EF, speakers at this level are able to use nuanced and appropriate language in social situations, read advanced texts with ease, and negotiate work contracts or rental contracts with native English speakers. 

Bavaria emerged as the federal state home to the best non-native English speakers in Germany, with an average EPI score of 636, closely followed by Baden-Württemberg and Bremen. This is perhaps unsurprising given that these states are home to multiple large international companies and thriving expat populations. 

Four achieved lower average scores that put them in the “high proficiency” category, including Saarland (595), Hesse (588), Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (583) and Brandenburg (581) - but EF notes that this is still a high score, indicating that these speakers could do a presentation in English for their job, understand TV shows and read a newspaper. 

Broken down by city, the best English speakers are to be found in Karlsruhe (655), Munich (648) and Dresden (642). Surprisingly, three major expat hubs appeared right at the bottom of the cities score list: Essen (594), Berlin (592) and Frankfurt (591). Overall, men performed slightly better than women, and people in the 21-25 years age bracket achieved the highest average score. 

The best non-native English speakers in the world 2022

According to EF’s 2022 ranking, these countries are home to the best non-native English speakers in the world in 2022: 

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

For more information on the ranking, visit the EF website.



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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