Danes’ English dominance on the wane

While Denmark is still among the best, it’s been bested by Estonia and others in new study

Is the Danes’ reputation for being among the best English-speakers in the world in jeopardy? 


Although Denmark ranked second in 2012, behind just Sweden, in the Education First English Proficiency Index (EF EPI), this year saw Denmark overtaken by Norway, the Netherlands and Estonia. 


Given its current fifth place, Christian Bagger, the head of EF Danmark, stressed that the level of English in Denmark is “still world-class”, but the new rankings are cause for concern. 


READ MORE: Totally nice! Why Danes love to speak English


“It’s not like Denmark is really going down, it’s more that the eastern European countries are catching up,” Bagger said. “They are approaching us quickly, and that means that the advantage we’ve had for years with Danes being superb at English is diminishing.”


Bagger said that it was especially surprising to see Estonia leapfrog Denmark in the rankings. 


“That a country like Denmark has been passed by Estonia, a country that hasn’t even been a member of the EU for a decade, is completely unacceptable and sends a clear signal to politicians that there needs to be increased focus in the area.”


Bagger went on to criticise the government’s recent decision to withdraw financial support for students who want to study abroad


READ MORE: University students overlook studying in eastern Europe


With its fifth place ranking, Denmark still falls under the category of ‘very high proficiency’. The countries to receive that distinction are:

  1. Sweden
  2. Norway
  3. Netherlands
  4. Estonia
  5. Denmark
  6. Austria
  7. Finland 

The full EF EPI rankings can be found here