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.
- Why are the Spanish 'so bad' at speaking English?
- Meet the Brit behind the app that is changing the way Spaniards learn English