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Top 20 Countries Where English Travels Well

Interest November 21, 2017 By Vincent
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It is often a criticism of English speakers that they don't do enough to learn other languages, but the strength and proliferation of the language actually mean it travels incredibly well. So if you are looking for somewhere to travel to but are a little self-conscious about your language skills, there is actually an annual index that ranks how well your Engish will travel. The EF Education First index compiles a list of those countries most accommodating to English speakers, and here we take a peek at the top 20.

20. Czech Republic

The Czech Republic was the first place in Central Europe to open a university, and so it has long attracted foreign intellects and thus had an interest in foreign languages.

With all students in the country having to begin learning a compulsory second language at the age of 6, most learn English in recognition of its global strength. 

19. Hungary

Like its nearby neighbor of the Czech Republic, Hungary has compulsory education of a second language from a young age and English takes precedence in many cases. 

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With higher study also being mostly free across a network of 70 colleges and Universities in the country, English can often be found spoken at an advanced level because of this.

18. Portugal

With an incredibly high level of English education in the country, English speaking film and television are often not dubbed at all in the country, and so there is a high level of daily exposure to the language out here.

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With education levels consistently improving over the past 30 years, it is only likely to boost itself in the rankings as well.

17. Romania

Romanian students learn second and third languages from a young age with Western European languages such as English, French, and German being the most popular and by the time they undertake secondary education, intensive coursework is given in English.

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To graduate from secondary education, students must pass written and oral exams in English.

16. Serbia

Serbia recognizes 9 languages as official languages of the nation, and yet English is not one of them. Despite this, it is taught at a young age and widely spoken conversationally to bridge any gaps between speakers of the 9 recognized tongues.

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A marked rise in tourism and a growing push for more visitors has seen a greater interest taken in the language over the years as well.

15. Philippines

English is taught as one of the two official languages in the Philippines, and all broadcast media, court documents, law, professional documents and professional textbooks in the country are produced in English.

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There are some slight discrepancies between American English and Filipino English but, for the most part, English speakers will be fine.

14. Switzerland

A country of many languages, the Swiss speak French, German, Romanish, Swiss German and English depending on what region they come from and in 2000, Swiss officials introduced formal English language instruction into the public school curriculum.

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Due to their big banking and tourism industries, English has always been strong here, but it continues to be on the up.

13. Malaysia

Malaysian remains the official language of Malaysia but officials have been prioritizing English more and more so since 2012, and it is now a recognized language in the nation.

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Its development has been focussed on in primary and secondary schools, and around 150,000 teachers of the language have been introduced since 2012.

12. Belgium

Belgium has long made a name for itself where other European countries meet to talk and trade and being a center for global finance, trade and now where the head offices of the European Union, NATO and WHO are based means that a slew of languages are spoken there.

Additionally, second and third languages are taught at a young age in the public school system.

11. Poland

Russian was the most prominent second language of Poland for a long time but with the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of the European Union English rapidly overtook it, and now a whopping 70% of students learn English as a second language.

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Language studies begin at 7 years old in Poland and continue right through secondary education.

10. Austria

Austrian German is the official language, but English is taught in schools from the age of 6 and the Austrian government subsidize education for students studying in English Language Teaching at English Teacher Training College.

As such they have a wealth of highly educated English speakers who teach younger generations the language.

9. Germany

In 2004, Germany mandated that foreign language education for all students from the age of 5 was mandatory. English was already established as the most popular second language in the country before then, and many international corporations operating out of the European giant determine their corporate language to be English.

Approximately 1/3 German students study abroad during college, and English speaking languages are very popular.

8. South Africa

South Africa has a somewhat incredible 11 official languages due to the many differing ethnic groups that call the country home and English is an important language in bridging that gap between them.

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10% of the population speak English as a native language, and because they have a large tourist industry, it is also important to talk to foreign visitors.

7. Luxembourg

The tiny European nation is one of many languages, and English, French, German and the local Luxembourgish are all taught from the start of schooling and often used in different contexts, for example, French in restaurants, German in Banks etc.

Heavily reliant on tourism, the country uses English to speak with the influx of foreign tourists on a daily basis.

6. Finland

Finland has one of the best education systems in the world and has a series of universities that teach over 400 courses in just English with many of the country's biggest companies, such as Nokia, adopting English as their corporate language.

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A large tourism industry also means that English is held in high regard.

5. Singapore

A former British colony, Singapore has adopted English as one of its official languages, and many corporations operate using it. 

In 2000 an initiative was launched to get Singaporeans to speak standard English as opposed to the local dialect of Singlish, to be more welcoming to tourists.

4. Norway

Norwegians are taught English from the moment they enter schooling and are often taught it in the context of socialization skills so that they have a good solid foundation on which to build in the future.

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This is then continued throughout education so that almost all Norwegians have an advanced level of the language.

3. Denmark

English and Scandinavian languages have linguistic links, and this is why some believe it is easier for Scandinavians to learn English, but if you've ever tried to learn a scandi language you'd know this is not necessarily the case.

However, Danes learn English from an early age and have a culture that promotes travel and internationalism. They also receive a lot of undubbed English language television and media and thus benefit from daily exposure to it.

2. Sweden

Like Denmark, the level of English in Sweden can be traced to their high levels of education, cultural appreciation of internationalism and exposure to English language media.

Introduced to Swedes at a young age, English has become part of the fabric of their society.

1. Netherlands

The Dutch have had foreign language education as a requirement since the 1960s, and their own language is known to be so complicated that many will communicate in English casually anyway.

Historically an important place for European and international trade, Netherlands have always benefitted from using second and third languages to trade. So many people speak English in the country that English media is rarely dubbed.

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