Dutch top English proficiency ranking, but can they speak it?

englishThe Netherlands has topped a new international ranking of proficiency in English, narrowly overtaking Denmark for the first time.

The ranking was compiled by language school and international education group EF Education based on the online replies of 950,000 people in 72 countries.

‘English is becoming a basic skill for the entire global workforce, in the same way that literacy has transformed in the last two centuries from an elite privilege into a basic requirement for informed citizenship,’ the organisation said.

Groningen university professor Marjolijn Verspoor told the Volkskrant she is not surprised by the Dutch high score. ‘Dutch and English are very similar, so it is easier for us,’ she said. In addition, the habit of subtitling rather than dubbing television programmes is a boost.

However, the index is based purely on testing reading and listening skills using multiple choice questions rather than the spoken or written word.

This means ‘you can’t say whether we speak better English than people in other countries,’ Verspoor pointed out.