Spanish now ranked worst in EU at speaking English

A new ranking suggests the Spanish are making very little progress when it comes to mastering English with Spain ranked the worst in the EU... even below the notoriously-bad-at-English French.

Spanish now ranked worst in EU at speaking English
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

The Spanish may have come a long way from the stereotype waiter epitomised by Manuel in Fawlty Towers but a new international ranking confirms their place near the wrong end of the rankings.

This year, even Italy has overtaken Spain in the  English Proficiency Index (EPI) from global language training company Education First (EF) ranked the Netherlands top out of 100 countries which don't have English as a national language, based on test results taken by natives in each country.

Spain’s score of 537 points placed in the “moderate competency” group of countries ranked at 34 in the world and behind all other countries in the European Union.

Last year, Spain was just ahead of Italy for its English language competency but it has now dropped behind as Italy climbed three places in the rankings.

In Europe as a whole, those performing worse were Belarus, Russia, Albania, Ukraine Georgia, Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan.

But there are reasons to be positive. In the last nine years, since the first study of this kind was conducted, Spain has risen up through the ranks from a “low” 24 out of 34 countries to a “moderate” 34 out of 100.

Not surprisingly the Netherlands held the number one position with a proficiency score of 652, followed by Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway.

Neighbouring Portugal ranked at number 7 of the list.



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Sweating like a chicken: 18 Spanish phrases to complain about the heat like a true Spaniard

The scorching temperatures that Spain usually gets during the summer months and sometimes earlier mean Spaniards are well equipped with a colourful variety of expressions to complain about the heat.

Sweating like a chicken: 18 Spanish phrases to complain about the heat like a true Spaniard
Spanish tennis star Rafa Nadal 'sweating like a chicken'; read on to find out more. Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

¡Qué calor hace! – It’s really hot! The most straightforward and generic way of making it known that you are indeed very hot.

¡Cómo ataca Lorenzo! – What an attack by Lorenzo! In Spain the sun is traditionally referred to as Lorenzo and the moon as Catalina. So if Lorenzo is ‘attacking’ you, it’s the sun’s rays that you find particularly punishing. 

¡Hace un calor de perros! What a dog day afternoon! It’s interesting that English has a similar expression to speak about hot summer afternoons and the feelings of lethargy it provokes, although in Spanish it can be used at all times of the day.  You can also say hace un frío de perros (it’s bitter cold).

spanish expressions hot weatherPhoto: Adrian Smalley/Flickr

¡Cómo pega! – It really hits you! Here’s a way of saying that it’s scorching hot and that you find the sun’s rays so intense, it’s as if they were giving you a beating.

¡Qué horno! – It’s like an oven out there! There are many places in Spain’s interior where it will feel like you’re being baked alive during the suffocating summer months. No wonder Spaniards usually head en masse to the coast to cool down in the sea. 

¡Me aso! – I’m roasting! Here’s another way of describing how it feels like you’re being cooked alive.

spanish language expressions heatPhoto: Andreas SOLARO / AFP

¡Me achicharro! – I’m being burnt to a crisp! And here’s an expression to say that you’re now overcooked. 

¡Hace un calor de la ostia/de cojones/del carajo! It’s sacramental bread hot, balls’ hot or f*cking hot! Because profanity is part and parcel of most daily speech in Spain and cojones and ostias are a great way of spicing up your language, we thought we’d throw in these extra ones for when you want to give the heat a piece of your mind. 

Estoy sudando como un pollo/un cerdo OR estoy sudando tinta – I’m sweating like a chicken/pig OR I’m sweating ink. Here are three fantastic Spanish expressions to let people know that your armpits currently have the sprinklers on due to the insane heat.

spanish language expressions heatPhoto: Jaime Reina/AFP

¡Hace un sol de justicia!: It’s punishingly sunny! This is of course a literal translation (and a loose one at that), but this expression is used to denote that the sun’s intensity is capable of justiciar, which in Spanish can mean to punish, bringing to justice or put to death. 

¡Hace tanto calor que hasta las ranas van con cantimplora! It’s so hot that even the frogs carry water bottles! If you use this brilliant metaphor with a native Spanish speaker, they’re likely to be very impressed. They may just not show it if they’re in the process of melting to the pavement due to the heat.

spanish expressions hot weatherPhoto: Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP

¡Menudo bochorno! It’s stifling! Use this expression to describe hot and humid weather that’s so muggy you’ve practically been glued to your sofa.

Hace un calor que se puede freír un huevo en la calle – It’s so hot you can fry an egg in the street! This has been literally tried and tested in cities such as Seville and Madrid, where the mercury hitting 40 C during the summer is a given year in year out.

Nueve meses de invierno y tres de infierno – Nine months of winter, three months of hell. Here’s a Spanish weather proverb for our readers living in Spain’s interior, which translates as ‘nine months of winter, 3 months of hell’. Technically it refers to the harsh differences in climate in Spain’s Castille regions, but if your part of Spain has bitter cold winters and scorching hot summers, this saying is definitely suited to you.