The EF English Proficiency Index, a global survey of English proficiency levels, has shown that Czechs have improved their English, most notably those in their forties. The Czech Republic ranked 23rd with 575 points.
Compared to last year, they have improved four places and are ahead of Serbia, Estonia, Switzerland, and Latvia. However, compared to our nearest neighbors, we perform the worst and have stagnated overall since the testing began.
The survey by Education First (EF), the world’s largest education organization, has been conducted annually since 2011. 2.1 million people from 111 countries where English is not the first language took part. The assessment categorizes respondents into five levels based on their level of proficiency: very high, high, moderate, low, and very low.
The Netherlands defended the top position, followed by Singapore and Austria. Europe dominates the testing, with only Singapore (where English is one of the four official languages) making it into the top ten among non-European countries.
Neighboring countries are well ahead of the Czech Republic.
After a significant drop from 19th place last year to 27th, the Czechs have returned to the level they have been at since the start of testing. This shows that we have been stagnating in English for at least the last 11 years. However, the level of domestic proficiency is still generally high, so we can present ourselves in English at work, understand TV programs, or read newspapers without difficulty.
In a global comparison, the Czechs do well, but in contrast with European countries, they are in the second half of the ranking. All neighboring countries rank significantly higher than the Czech Republic, with Austria ranking third. The government closest to the Czech Republic is Slovakia, in 15th place, a full eight places higher – just one step away from moving into the group of countries with a very high language level.
Prague is above Berlin
The survey also looks at how the big cities are doing. Interestingly, Prague has climbed to 16th place among the cities with the highest level of English use, ahead of even Berlin in Germany.
In a comparison of all participating countries, men perform better than women. However, the gap is shrinking yearly and is virtually non-existent in countries such as France, Italy, Russia, and Ukraine.
Some deterioration in younger age groups
A somewhat negative surprise comes from the survey for the 21 to 25 age group, whose level has not changed since last year, and especially for the youngest group tested, 18 to 20. This group’s level has fallen significantly worldwide in the previous two years.
Schools, companies, and government institutions are involved in the EPI test, but individuals can also complete it.