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The Dutch Are Back on Top in EF's Global Ranking of English Proficiency

The Dutch Are Back on Top in EF's Global Ranking of English Proficiency

EF Education First released today the ninth annual edition of its EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI), analyzing data from 2.3 million non-native English speakers in 100 countries and regions. This year, the Netherlands replaces Sweden to become the top scorer.

"English remains the undisputed global language of business. Our ninth edition of the EF EPI is more comprehensive than ever, providing valuable insights for governments to evaluate their language learning policies and the return on their investments in language training," said Dr. Minh Tran, EF Executive Director of Academic Affairs.

The EF EPI is based on test scores from the EF Standard English Test (EF SET), the world's first free standardized English test. The EF SET has been used worldwide by thousands of schools, companies, and governments for large-scale testing.

Key findings of the EF EPI 2019 include:

  • The network effect of English has never been stronger. The more people use English, the more useful it becomes for individuals, businesses, and countries to access resources and opportunities.
  • European English skills are polarized, with most of the EU's neighbors not developing English proficiency at the same pace as member states.
  • Asia still has the largest gap between individual country scores, and China has moved from low to moderate proficiency for the first time.
  • Latin America is finally turning around after years of stagnation. Twelve out of 18 countries surveyed in the region improved their proficiency between 2017 and 2018.
  • Africa's overall average dropped significantly, and the gap between higher and lower proficiency countries is wider than ever.
  • Women still outscore men in English skills worldwide, but the gender gap is closing.
  • High English proficiency continues to correlate with various indicators of economic competitiveness, including higher income and increased labor productivity.

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 43 countries.

The EF EPI and EF EPI-s reports and country/region fact sheets are available for download at

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." With more than 600 schools and offices in over 50 countries, EF is the Official Language Training Partner for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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