France finished 37th out of 70 countries in the new world ranking, carried out by international language training company Education First.
This was enough to see it finish ahead of only Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Russia among the 27 European countries measured.
The report noted that France, as well as neighbouring Spain and Italy were behind European averages. However, while Spain and Italy were on the up, France remained stubbornly stuck, well behind the likes of Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands.
“In fact, France is so far behind its neighbours that its English proficiency levels are akin to those of countries on the eastern edges of Europe,” the company noted.
“Whether due to a cultural aversion to English or an inability to reform its education system, France is on a different trajectory from its neighbours.”
France finished with a “low proficiency” overall, dropping from 29th place last year when it was ranked with a “moderate proficiency”.
Nenad Djokic, Country Manager for Education First in France, stressed that while France may have dropped eight places, things weren't any worse than usual.
“France is stagnating, it's not dropping,” he told The Local.
“The only reason we have lost ground is because we have added new countries to the study this year. But the trend is that France is not improving, not at all.”
He said that the reasons France isn't keeping up with other countries that are on the improve, like Spain and Poland, could be blamed on the proud French-speaking culture, the lack of English as a required competency in schools, and overflowing classrooms preventing high school students from learning.
“The problem is that there is a split in France. Some people realize that it's important for business, foreign careers, and going abroad, while the intellectual elite think the primary focus should be expanding French everywhere.”
“As long as we don't have a vision about where we want to go, then we are destined to stay at the same level,” he said.
The list, as usual, was dominated by the Nordics. Sweden finished first, followed by the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and Finland.