Wednesday, August 12, 2020 Edition: U.S. & World | Regional

Which Countries in Europe Speak the Best English?

Want to see Europe but afraid of the language problem? There’s never been a better time for English-speaking travelers to visit! It is becoming easier for English speaking individuals to travel throughout Europe without having to speak the local languages, because many of the locals of those countries can speak English quite well. English is commonly taught from elementary school on in many Western European countries. For the most part visitors can order food, ask for directions, and venture through Europe while speaking English.

Remember, though, to be a good guest and try to learn at least a few words of the local language. Becoming fluent in foreign language is tough but learning some common phrases is easy and fun. You’ll get a better reception if you don’t demand that everyone speak English.

Here are 9 countries in Europe that have people who speak English the best:
1    Sweden

At least seventy percent of the people in Sweden speak English very well and there is a slight debate as to whether English should even be considered a foreign language in that country. The majority of the locals that speak English were born after World War II, when American influence was high through the arts, culture, and trade. Students learn the English language from third until ninth grade and then they are required to take at least one more year in grades ten through twelve.

2    Netherlands

The people who live in the Netherlands can speak English quite well, with as many as ninety percent of the population being proficient in the English language. Students must learn the English language while they are in school and they are required to pass an English test before they can graduate high school.
3    Denmark

There are many languages that people speak in Denmark, but the official language is Danish. With that being said, a large amount of people also speaks English. Children are required to learn the English language in school before they are given the option to learn a third language.

4    Norway

Almost ninety percent of the population of Norway can speak the English language proficiently and this country actually scores within the top five countries on the EF English Proficiency Index. Every class in most of the colleges in Norway are taught exclusively in English, which is helpful for people who want to learn the language. All the movies that are shown in Norway are in the English language with subtitles in the native language, so the locals hear the English language every time they watch a movie, plus they all listen to music and watch television shows in English as well.
5    Finland

The people that speak the best English in Finland include consultants, lawyers, and people who work in the tourism industry. However, many other professionals are not too far behind with their language proficiency. Children in Finland begin to learn the English language at a very young age and it is one of their required courses throughout their school years.

6    Belgium

The residents of Belgium all speak different languages depending on where they live, but almost all of them speak English. Every student must begin to learn the English language at the age of fourteen, which is why they are all fluent in it by the time they graduate. While people do speak English in this country, it is still recommended that people learn some of the local languages, so that they are prepared if a situation arises.
7    Estonia

People in Estonia speak either Estonian or Russian, but not both. For that reason, many of them will speak English with anyone who speaks the opposite language as they do, simply so that there is no miscommunication. This makes it easy for people traveling to the country, because they do not need to worry about learning not only one, but two new languages.

8    Germany

The Germans have picked up the English language quickly, which is possibly because some of the words in their language are similar to the English versions. The best part about Germans who speak English is that they have more than the words down. They also know many figures of speech and slang words, so no one needs to worry about not being understood when they are talking to a local in Germany.
9    Austria

There are many tourism jobs available in Austria for English speaking individuals, so it is no wonder that many locals are trying to learn that language. Austria’s economy relies on tourists and since most of these tourists speak English, the locals want to be able to communicate with them effectively.

Since English is becoming a popular language in many countries, people will find that it is easier for them to travel and be understood. No one will need to spend hours learning a new language or using a translation app when they need to ask a local for a recommendation to a good restaurant or where the closest restroom is. Hopefully, this will mean that more people will begin to travel the world in the future, especially to Europe, where they can speak the language that they already know.


  1. Caitlin
    August 23, 2017 - 5:02 pm

    When I stayed in Austria, I did a student exchange type of program that was very short-term. I stayed with a family and the only one who spoke fluent English was the eldest daughter, who was about my age. The younger two children hadn’t yet begun their English classes, but they learned quite a bit during my stay. Combine that with Austria’s breathtaking natural beauty and absolutely incredible cultural sites, I’d definitely recommend visiting. It is interesting that English is taking over in so…

  2. Fidelis Smart
    September 5, 2017 - 1:24 am

    Few months ago, I was in Europe to meet some business associates, Denmark to be precise. Most of the reception and warmth welcome I got was given by English speaking persons. I was thinking the Danish language has been ditched long ago, until I saw some kids speaking it. It was confusing but I like the fact that most people in Denmark can speak English fluently.

  3. Ella Grace
    September 5, 2017 - 11:14 am

    English Language is a universal language, but not all countries and regions are conversant with this. Going to Germany gave me a unique experience, the Germans can speak English fluently, though a few of them can’t do without their local slogans. It was a nice experience overall.

  4. Halyna R.
    September 5, 2017 - 12:00 pm

    I was expecting to see here the Scandinavian countries. From what I know, it’s a common practice there to show English movies and TV shows without translation, as it’s mentioned in the section about Norway. This way the learning begins even before the children start school. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that many people there, especially the youth, are bilingual. And I was pleasantly surprised to see Estonia on the list. I have a friend there. We only communicate in Russian, so I had no idea…

  5. Daniel Lucas
    September 6, 2017 - 2:05 pm

    During my first visit to Germany, I was actually worried that I may not be able to have much fun with the locals because I may not find people to give me clear directions to where I can actually have the best of fun in the adventure. But I was obviously wrong. From young to old of these Germans, they speak good English that even competes with mine and that gave me full access to every perk of fun the adventure has to offer.

  6. Caitlin
    September 6, 2017 - 3:33 pm

    I think the most likely country I’d visit on this list would be Estonia. It seems much different than the rest, since they’re all predominately Scandinavian or German-speaking countries. It’s exciting to think I could visit Estonia and have very little problem due to the language barrier. I am a native English speaker and, though I have tried to learn other languages, I haven’t had much success. I doubt I would have much luck in getting around speaking limited Estonian or Russian! I do find it…

  7. Joanne
    September 7, 2017 - 4:51 am

    Wow these are all countries that are on my “To go there” list, especially Norway, Sweden and Austria. It’s good to know that I will have no problems communicating in English there. I would definitely add a country that should be among the top in this list. In Romania English is taught as soon as kindergarten and is a mandatory subject throughout school and even college. I’ve heard many foreigners say that the Romanian’s English accent and vocabulary is very very good. Oh and..

  8. AM
    November 22, 2017 - 11:06 am

    Why is Poland and Iceland missing? Both countries are very fluent.

  9. Alex Bogdanov
    October 24, 2018 - 4:13 pm

    I think Malta and Cyprus should be on the list too


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