The best countries to travel in for tourists who only speak English

During my journeys, I have noticed that travelers who come from relatively small countries that have their own language often can speak foreign languages very well. Perhaps the explanation is that no one else outside the borders of the country can speak their language, so they have to learn foreign languages. Language institute EF has measured how well people across the world understand English, and the results seem to reflect my small country theory to a certain extent.

countries ranked by English skills. EF video imageDark blue and dark grey indicate countries with high English skills (EF).
EF is a global language school specialized in teaching English to adults. More than one million people took the EF Standard English Test (EF SET), whose 2017 results were compiled and published here.

The EF index of countries created from the test results measure a country’s English language skills relative to other countries. The 2017 index ranked 80 countries and territories.

Countries with very high English skills are:

    01. Netherlands
    02. Sweden
    03. Denmark
    04. Norway
    05. Singapore
    06. Finland
    07. Luxembourg
    08. South Africa

houses along a canal in HollandHouses along a canal in Netherlands.
EF remarks on the high ranking of European countries in the index: “Eight of the top 10 countries in this year’s index are in Europe. High levels of English proficiency go hand in hand with Europe’s multiculturalism, economic integration, tourism, and mobility – even at a time when some Europeans are questioning their common project and the value of globalization itself.”

According to EF tests, countries with high skills in English are the following:

    09. Germany
    10. Austria
    11. Poland
    12. Belgium
    13. Malaysia
    14. Switzerland
    15. Philippines
    16. Serbia
    17. Romania
    18. Portugal
    19. Hungary
    20. Czech Republic
    21. Slovakia

Moderate skills:

    22. Bulgaria
    23. Greece
    24. Lithuania
    25. Argentina
    26. Dominican Republic
    27. India
    28. Spain
    29. Hong Kong
    30. South Korea
    31. Nigeria
    32. France
    33. Italy
    34. Vietnam
    35. Costa Rica

You can try the test yourself that has provided the data for the ranking. The test measures your ability to understand both what you read and what you hear.

The rest of the EF-ranked countries by their English skills:

    36. China
    37. Japan
    38. Russia
    39. Indonesia
    40. Taiwan
    41. Brazil
    42. Macau
    43. Uruguay
    44. Mexico
    45. Chile
    46. Bangladesh
    47. Ukraine
    48. Cuba
    49. Panama
    50. Peru
    51. Colombia
    52. Pakistan
    53. Thailand
    54. Guatemala
    55. Ecuador
    56. Tunisia
    57. U.A.E.
    58. Syria
    59. Qatar
    60. Morocco
    61. Sri Lanka
    62. Turkey
    63. Jordan
    64. Azerbaijan
    65. Iran
    66. Egypt
    67. Kazakhstan
    68. Venezuela
    69. El Salvador
    70. Oman
    71. Mongolia
    72. Saudi Arabia
    73. Angola
    74. Kuwait
    75. Cameroon
    76. Algeria
    77. Cambodia
    78. Libya
    79. Iraq
    80. Laos

    Via Yle.

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