French ranked worst in western Europe for level of English

French ranked worst in western Europe for level of English
Photo: AFP
A new ranking suggests the French are making very little progress when it comes to mastering English with France placed bottom of the table for western Europe. But why?

The French are not the most renowned for their mastery of the language of Shakespeare, Beckham and Harry Potter and a new international ranking confirms their place near the wrong end of the rankings.

The English Proficiency Index (EPI) from global language training company Education First (EF) ranked Sweden top out of 88 countries which don't have English as a national language, based on test results taken by natives in each country.

Down in 35th place came France, placed in the “moderate competency” group of countries and behind all other countries in western Europe.

In fact in Europe as a whole only Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Albania, Turkey and Azerbaijan were ranked lower than the French.

When it comes to the level of English in big cities around the world Paris was ranked 25th, behind the likes of Shanghai, Buenos Aires, Seoul and Sofia. 

Within France, Paris was the city where the natives demonstrated the best level of English, just ahead of Lille and Lyon. At the bottom of the ranking for French cites came Nice and Marseille.

The French region that ranked as having the best English level was Pays-de-la-Loire in the west of the country – ahead of the Greater Paris region of ile-de-France.

So why does France continue to lag behind the rest of Europe – it has fallen in the rankings over the last two years – when it comes to mastering English?

While THIS article points to many reasons such as the fact the French still dub films, the poor methods of teaching English in schools and a simple lack of exposure to the language, the report by Education First points to an overall philosophy in France as being the source of the problem.

“The preservation of French language has always been the main priority in the country. Every time English is perceived as a threat to national languages, the level of competency in English suffers,” read the report.
Speaking to The Local previously Adeline Prevost, from Education First said: “People are actually still more concerned with whether we are speaking good French than good English.
“Our priorities have not changed, and therefore we have not seen a change in English speaking levels in the last four or five years.”
So while the new ranking might make the French feel a little inferior compared to their European neighbours, perhaps they just don't care. 

READ ALSO: What the French should do to improve their English

Eight tips for how the French could improve their English

Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.