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Knowledge of English for doing business around the world

Knowledge of the English language is an important skill when doing business in different countries

This trend is confirmed by the EF EPI research which takes into account the knowledge of the English language by adults in 100 different countries.

The survey involving 2.2 million people reveals that the Netherlands is the country with the highest knowledge of English in the world. This is followed by Denmark and Finland. In short, the top 3 is occupied by European countries. 

At the bottom of the ranking, there are mostly Asian or African countries. In particular, the last three places are occupied by Oman, Iraq and Tajikistan.

The research also shows that out of 100 countries analyzed, knowledge of the English language measured by indicators that produce a final score, has remained stable. 26 countries have improved their performance, while seven have worsened. 

It is also found that greater knowledge of the English language is linked to increased investment in research and development. This means that those who know English also have an advantage in terms of innovation and are willing to collaborate internationally. 

Who speaks English: young managers

Research reveals that it is adults between the ages of 26 and 30 who speak the best English, followed by younger adults between the ages of 21 and 25. 

Mid-level managers also do better than their senior colleagues, perhaps because they are “forced” to practice more of the language, particularly in external relations. And perhaps because managers are usually older. 

As for the areas of the world where English is spoken, the research divides the continents, pointing out that:

  • In Europe, knowledge of the English language is increasing, but Spain and Italy are still lagging behind;
  • In Asia, knowledge of the English language is worsening, but China stands out as it consolidates its progress;
  • In Latin America, 12 out of 19 countries have improved their English language skills;
  • In Africa, the gap is widening between countries that have achieved good results and those that are still far behind.
  • The Middle East is at the bottom of the ranking, although government efforts are beginning to produce the first results.

This trend is set to grow because the more widespread the technologies are, the greater will be the chances of learning English, even at a distance, or by accessing English language products. 

The importance of knowledge of English

In a globalized world where 20% of economic production is exported, English is of crucial importance. In fact, notes EF, greater knowledge of the English language is correlated with an increase in gross domestic product, higher net income and higher productivity.

This is particularly true for those who provide services, which, unlike goods, are affected by the languages spoken by their interlocutors. This is because, EF points out, speaking the same language increases confidence in the business transaction. 

The fact remains that knowing languages (not just English) opens up more opportunities in the workplace and stimulates economic, individual and community growth. It is no coincidence that, in addition to English, the study of other languages is growing, particularly useful in the commercial and global panorama. This is the case of French, Spanish and Chinese, currently studied by 150 million people. 


Eleonora Spagnolo
Eleonora Spagnolo
Journalist passionate about the web and the digital world. She graduated with honours in Multimedia Publishing at the University La Sapienza in Rome and completed a master's degree in Web and Social Media Marketing.