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Global language test   Swiss maintain ‘good’ English skills

English signs in a third grade English class in Suhr, Switzerland

German-speaking Swiss tended to score higher on the English test than those in the French- and Italian-speaking regions, reflecting international trends.


Although it went down a place in an annual English competence ranking of 88 nationsexternal link, Switzerland remains stable in its command of the language, even though it isn’t one of the four Swiss national languages.

The annual survey by private education and language training company EF saw Switzerland ranked in 15th place, down from 14th in 2017. The study aims to assess English language competence in countries where it is not an official majority language. The results are based on a free standardised online test, which is used to calculate EF’s English Proficiency Indexexternal link.

As in previous years, the country’s German-speaking regions scored the best, especially in the Zurich region as well as central Switzerland, with a grade of “very good”. The rest of the Swiss plateau and the east earned a score of “good”, while the Lake Geneva region and Ticino were “average”. The country as a whole earned a score of “good” and ranked 12th out of the 32 European countries in the survey.

Switzerland’s regional scores reflect larger international trends. Worldwide, Scandinavian and German-speaking countries tended to score highest, while France and Italy were “average”. EF notes that this might be due to a desire to preserve the national language in these countries as a cultural element. The authors add that a country’s level of industrialisation does not always correspond to English proficiency, citing the example of Japan with a score of “weak”.

Overall, eight of the top ten places were held by European countries, with Sweden coming in first place.


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