Percentage Of People Who Can Hold a Conversation in English in Europe by Country.

While most of the world’s population speaks some English today, a small portion can hold a full-fledged conversation in English. This is particularly true of the European continent. One very common misconception is that Europeans are good at speaking English. This is not true, however. While some countries excel at speaking English, especially in Northern Europe, other European countries do not fair well as far as English proficiency is concerned. In fact, most people in Southern Europe cannot hold a conversation in English. This is shown in the following map, designed by Jakub Marian. Data incorporated in the map is based on 2012 Eurobarometer report.


Source [here]

One important thing to note is that the value 95+ for the UK and Ireland is adjusted according to the status quo in both countries, i.e. it represents the fact that English is not the first language of a large portion of the population in both countries due to immigration. It also also equally important to note that estimating the exact number of immigrants who do not speak or who are not fluent in English is hard, especially that different people have different opinions of what fluency is. Take 2011 census for example. 1.7% of the UK population reported that they speak poor English or no English at all.  Jakub Marian observes that ” This is probably an underestimation, as the questionnaire itself was in English, so those with a poor command of English were less likely to fill it in correctly, and it included only people with permanent residence in the UK.”


3 thoughts on “Percentage Of People Who Can Hold a Conversation in English in Europe by Country.”

  1. As the source information is about eight (or even 14) years old, I think this map is partially outdated as many people in Eastern and Southern Europe try to learn English. Today many things have changed, e.g. access to internet with all of its possibilities etc.
    So a new map would be probably even greener..

  2. For more correct figures, you should split the results for Belgium in the northern (flemish/dutch) part and the southern part (waloons/french speaking). Flemish speaking people excel at speaking English in comparison with the french speaking part of Belgium.

    1. As well as portuguese people cannot be compared and be on the same level as Spanish people, at all. You can have a conversation in English with 80% of young people, 60% of working people and probably 5-10% of retirees in Portugal . In Spain not even students can speak good English !

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