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Spaniards have second lowest level of English in EU

Despite Spain’s popularity with English-speaking holidaymakers and home buyers, its people continue to have one of the worst levels of English in Europe according to the 2022 English Proficiency Index.

Spaniards have second lowest level of English in EU
Spaniards have never ranked high for their English level. Image by Freepik

A study conducted by language school empire English First in their latest English Proficiency Index found that the Spanish rank number 33 out of 111 countries, but are way behind other nations in Europe, as they came in at number 25 out of 35.

In fact, Spaniards have the second lowest level of English in the whole of the EU, with only the French ranked worse. 

This is in stark contrast to other EU countries such as the Netherlands (number 1 in the world), Austria (3rd), Belgium (4th) and Nordic countries Norway (4th), Denmark (5th) and Sweden (7th).

Spain even fell behind other southern European countries – Portugal came at number 9, Greece at number 14 and Italy at number 32. 

READ ALSO: Why are the Spanish ‘so bad’ at speaking English?

In terms of how the Iberian nation’s level compares on the global scale, Spain maintains a medium level of English proficiency, in the same range as Ukraine, South Korea and Costa Rica. 

People with this mid-level English are able to carry out simple tasks in English such as understanding song lyrics and writing professional e-mails about subjects they’re familiar with, but may have problems with more complex conversations and understanding films that haven’t been dubbed.  

“Despite making a little progress, the English level of Spaniards remains at the moderate levels where it has stayed for many years, without showing great improvements,” said the director General of EF Spain, Xavier Martí.

“The data confirms that the educational model presents deficiencies in language learning”. 

Which regions in Spain have the best and worst levels of English?

The study revealed that Galicians have the best level of English among Spaniards, followed by Catalans, Basques and then those from Cantabria, which all had above-average levels of English compared with the rest of the country.

On the other end of the scale, those from Extremadura had the worst level of English. Only slightly better were people from La Rioja, Castilla-La Mancha and Murcia, who all had levels below the national average.

When it comes to cities, people in the Galician city of Vigo had the best level of English, followed by regional neighbour A Coruña, Barcelona and then Bilbao. Madrid is in fifth place.

In terms of the cities with the worst levels of English, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria took top spot, only slightly above the cities of Murcia, Valladolid and the other Canary capital of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

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UNDERSTANDING SPANIARDS

REVEALED: The most and least polite cities in Spain

Do you live in the politest city in Spain? Or perhaps in the rudest? A new survey has revealed where in Spain residents are most considerate towards others and where they are the most ill-mannered.

REVEALED: The most and least polite cities in Spain

Spaniards are known for being straight-talking and not overly polite, saying please and sorry (or por favor and perdón) far less in daily conversation than British people, for example.

That’s not to say that they’re rude by definition, they just have a different interpretation of what’s expected and warranted in certain social situations. In fact, Spaniards are far more likely to strike up a conservation with you in a queue than northern Europeans, and if someone is in trouble, they’re likely to jump in to help.

READ ALSO: Nine unwritten rules that explain how Spain works

However, when it comes to being considerate towards others and having good manners, not all Spaniards make the mark, and the inhabitants of some cities fare far worse than others.

According to a study by language learning site Preply, the politest cities in Spain are Vigo and A Coruña, both in Galicia in the rainy northwest of the country.

The stereotypical image of Galicians is that they can be closed-minded, superstitious, and untrusting, but also affectionate, helpful, strong and honest, and it could be that they’re more polite on average as well. 

Residents of Vigo and A Coruña were followed by the eastern coastal city of Valencia on the politeness podium.

READ ALSO – The good, the bad and the ugly: What are the regional stereotypes across Spain? 

For the study, 1,500 residents of the 19 most populated areas of Spain were interviewed and given various scenarios to find out how polite or inconsiderate they considered their neighbours to be.

Talking loudly on the phone, watching videos with the sound on and speaking in a loud voice were all given categories that could be ticked as being rude on public transport, while not slowing down for pedestrians or not letting other cars in were considered examples of rudeness when driving.

The most ill-mannered behaviours according to the study involve shouting in public, pushing into a queue or being rude to workers.

Once the answers were collated, each city was given a score from 1 to 10, with 1 being the politest and 10 being the rudest.

Vigo, situated in Galicia’s Rías Baixas was found to be the most polite with a score of 5.17, closely followed by A Coruña with a score of 5.18.  

Valencia came in third place with a score of 5.28, followed by Murcia-Orihuela with 5.30.

Other polite cities were Oviedo (5.31), Las Palmas (5.39), Zaragoza (5.45), Sevilla (5.45) and Cádiz (5.50). 

Madrid came in the middle of the list with a score of 5.53, while on the rude side of the list were Valladolid (5.58), Málaga (5.61), Barcelona (5.64), Palma de Mallorca (5.69) and Bilbao (5.73). 

On the far end of the scale, Santa Cruz de Tenerife was found to be the city with the least considerate inhabitants with a score of 6.06, followed by Granada with 5.95, Alicante-Elche with 5.81 and San Sebastián with 5.77.

New technology could be partly to blame for bad manners, as according to respondents the most frequent rude behaviour in Spain is being too absorbed in your phone in public (with a score of 6.31), followed by not greeting strangers (6.26) and watching videos on your phone in public (6.21).

Other behaviours that people considered to not be very civic were making noise in public (6.15) and not giving tips (6.05).

On that note, when it comes to leaving tips, the residents of the city of Valladolid were found to be the most generous.

In general, only 26.55 percent of respondents said they  usually leave a tip, while 28.08 percent only do so if they received excellent service. More than 19 percent of respondents confessed to never leaving any tip.

In Valladolid, the most generous city, people said they give an average of 10.18 percent of the bill, while in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the stingiest, they admitted to only giving 6.10 percent of the bill.

If there are any conclusions to be drawn overall about the study’s findings is that there aren’t huge differences between the most and least well-mannered cities in Spain.

Good manners and fear of offending others may not be intrinsic of the Spanish character as in other countries, but that doesn’t stop Spain from being a country with a strong emphasis on community.

READ MORE: The many ways Spaniards refer to your face when you’re being cheeky

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