Germany has the tenth-highest English proficiency in the world

Germany has the tenth-highest English proficiency in the world

According to this year’s EF English Proficiency Index, Germany is home to the 10th-best non-native English speakers in the world.  

The EF English Proficiency Index 2019

Every year, the global language training company Education First (EF) compiles a ranking of countries according to English proficiency. This year’s ranking uses data from the more than 2.300.000 adults who took EF English tests in 2018, hailing from over 100 countries and 400 cities and regions worldwide. The countries are all sorted into one of five categories - very high, high, moderate, low and very low. 

For the second year in a row, Germany ranked 10th with an overall score of 63,77 (the average score for Europe was 56,71). The federal republic was one of just 14 countries to be placed in the “very high” English language skills band, which is equivalent to the B2 level in the Common European Framework of Reference, a well-known language certification.

South Africa and Singapore were the only non-European countries to achieve a place in this category. Overall, the number of very high proficiency countries has grown every year since 2017. Within Europe, Germany ranked eighth overall, and the report’s authors noted that, out of the Eurozone’s four largest economies, “Only Germany speaks English well … France, Spain, and Italy lag behind nearly every other member state.”   

Berliners and Düsseldorfers speak the best English

Within Germany, the study found that the federal states home to Germany’s big cities came out on top in terms of English proficiency. Unsurprisingly, Berlin ranked highest overall with a score of 65,51. Expat-friendly Bavaria (65,09), Hamburg (64,72) and North-Rhine Westphalia (64,63) also ranked highly. The lowest-ranking regions were Mecklenburg-West Pomerania (58,72) and Saxony-Anhalt (60,70). 

The highest-ranked city was Düsseldorf in North-Rhine Westphalia, with an overall score of 65,55, followed by Berlin (65,51) and Munich (65,04). Bremen, Frankfurt, Cologne and Stuttgart also ranked in the top 10. 

The best and worst non-native English speaking countries

The top spot overall went to the Netherlands, which snagged a score of 70,27. Sweden and Norway were the other countries to make it into the top three. The top countries were as follows: 

  • 1. Netherlands
  • 2. Sweden
  • 3. Norway
  • 4. Denmark
  • 5. Singapore
  • 6. South Africa
  • 7. Finland
  • 8. Austria
  • 9. Luxembourg
  • 10. Germany

The bottom 10 on the index, the countries with the worst English proficiency, are:

  • 91. Angola
  • 92. Oman
  • 93. Kazakhstan
  • 94. Cambodia
  • 95. Ivory Coast
  • 97. Iraq
  • 98. Saudi Arabia
  • 99. Kyrgyzstan
  • 100. Libya

For the full ranking, including detailed country profiles, visit the EF website.



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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