Spaniards' English level still among worst in Europe in 2023

Alex Dunham
Alex Dunham - [email protected]
Spaniards' English level still among worst in Europe in 2023
The data shows that the level of English proficiency in Spain has hardly changed over the past decade. Image by Freepik

People in Spain continue to have the second lowest levels of English in the EU according to the global English Proficiency Index in 2023, although Spaniards from certain regions have been found to be much better speakers.


It’s no secret that Spaniards are the not best English speakers in the world, although anglophones are not generally in a position to boast about their foreign language skills either.

A new study conducted by language school empire English First in their latest English Proficiency Index (EPI) has found that Spaniards rank number 35 out of 113 nationalities when it comes to speaking inglés.


In 2022 they were in 33rd position out of 111 nations analysed, which represents a slight drop although more countries have been added to the study.

The English proficiency of Spaniards is classified as “moderate”, with other countries such as Honduras, Ghana, Belarus and Albania also in this intermediate category. 

Spaniards are tied in 35th place with Italians and are ahead of the French, who have dropped to 43rd position in 2023, the lowest of all EU nations surveyed in this linguistic competency index.

Other EU countries dominated the top ranking of “very high proficiency” English speakers, topped by the Dutch in first position, Austrians in third, Danes in fourth, Norwegians in fifth, Swedes in sixth, Belgians in seventh, the Portuguese in eighth and the Germans in tenth place.

READ ALSO: Why do Portuguese people speak much better English than Spaniards?

People in Poland, Serbia, Hungary, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania and Estonia are more competent in English than Spaniards, according to the study.

When analysing EPI's data for Europe as a whole - not just the EU - Spain came in 29th place out of 36 countries, with only Albania, Russia, France, Ukraine, Armenia, Türkiye and Azerbaijan trailing. 


Other data shows that the level of English proficiency in Spain has hardly changed over the past decade, with only a slight increase in level in the early 2010s, followed by ten years in the linguistic doldrums.

Whereas the English of people 30 in Spain and older has improved since 2011, the fluency of Spaniards aged 18 to 20 has dropped, rather worryingly. 

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

The general director of EF Spain, Xavier Martí, has stated that Spain must raise its overall level of English if it wants to be a “world reference in leisure and investment”.

But that’s not to say that Spaniards across the country all speak average English. 

According to the index, people in the Spanish regions of Asturias, Galicia and Madrid have a "high" level of English.

These three autonomous communities also claimed the top spots in the 2022 English Proficiency Index, proving that it’s not just a one off.

Meanwhile, people in Catalonia, the Basque Country, Cantabria, Navarre and Castilla y León were found to have an "intermediate" level of English. 

The apparent higher level of English in the country’s northwest is again reflected by the ranking of Spanish cities with the best proficiency levels - Vigo, Gijón, Oviedo and A Coruña occupy the five top spots.

Palma de Mallorca, Madrid, Granada, Bilbao, Zaragoza, Alicante, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Valencia, Barcelona and Salamanca completed the top ten ranking, in that order. 



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