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 fare 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 the 2012 Eurobarometer report.
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 is 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 since different people have different opinions of what fluency is. Take the 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 incorrectly, and it included only people with permanent residence in the UK.”