AN ANNUAL study by Swedish language learning company Education First found that the Galician city of Vigo had the highest English proficiency in Spain in 2023.
The city earned an overall score of 579, indicating high English proficiency. However, Spain as a whole scored below the European average, ranking 25th out of the 34 European countries surveyed.
Founded in 1965, Education First provides language courses, cultural exchanges and experiential learning programs for language learners worldwide.
The company publishes its English Proficiency Index annually using test results from 2.2 million adults in 113 countries.
After Vigo, the Spanish cities with the highest English proficiency were Gijon, with a score of 575; Oviedo, scoring 570; and A Coruña, coming in at 565.
At the other end, Valladolid scored a 537 followed by Sevilla at 535, Tarragona at 533, and finally the city of Burgos in Castile and Leon, placing last on the list with a score of 532.
The study also ranked the English levels of each of Spain’s autonomous communities.
Asturias performed best with a score of 565, followed by Galicia at 559, Madrid at 550 and the Basque Country at 548.
At the bottom were Extremadura at 515, Andalucia at 511, La Rioja at 509 and Castilla-La Mancha with the lowest score of 498, indicating low English proficiency.
Most Andalucian cities were low on the list, with Granada being the only one that scored in the high proficiency category.
Malaga was ranked sixth from the bottom, below Murcia and above Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, earning a score of 545.
Globally Spain ranked 35th, or moderately proficient, tying with Italy and Moldova.
Of all the countries surveyed, The Netherlands scored the highest, earning “very high proficiency” with a score of 647.
According to the survey, people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo speaks English at a “very low proficiency,” coming in last in the global ranking with a score of 385, just after Tajikistan, which scored 388.
The global average across all countries surveyed was 493.
Spain fell largely in line with global trends in terms of English proficiency across age groups. Aside from a brief recovery in 2021, scores among 18 – 20-year-olds in Spain have dropped steadily since 2015, declining from high proficiency to moderate.
For 21 – 25-year-olds, scores increased slightly from last year after a sharp increase in 2021, now hovering between moderate and high proficiency.
People between the ages of 26 and 40 maintained the highest English levels of all age groups despite a small decline from 2022, scoring in the high proficiency category, while older adults’ scores dipped sharply from last year after continuous improvement since 2015.
Globally, English proficiency levels among 18 – 20-year-olds has been making a steep and steady decline over the past few years, falling from a high-moderate level in 2015 to very low proficiency in 2023.