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Which European Countries Speak the Most English?

Which European Countries Speak the Most English?

Old Nov 19th, 2014, 06:20 AM
  #21  
 
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nytravler, I would guess that your colleagues are white-collar professionals -- those who took Gymnasium and university, and who use English often (as you say you use English in your business).

s
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Old Nov 19th, 2014, 06:30 AM
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"everyone is all of them is perfectly fluent - many with not much of an accent."

For those of us in the U.K., they appear to have U.S. accents, and of course many of them will have watched U.S. films.

It has been noticeable recently that many U.K. call centres are now located in the Philippines, and the staff speak with a sort of U.S. accent.
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Old Nov 19th, 2014, 06:51 AM
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All the Danes I know speak English better than most of the English and most Americans.

Let's not go overboard here. Even working among professionals in Denmark, you can tell that it isn't their first language. It isn't a big deal and you can communicate fully, but you will notice quirks and gaps in the knowledge if you pay attention.

It has been noticeable recently that many U.K. call centres are now located in the Philippines, and the staff speak with a sort of U.S. accent.

Call center jobs are good jobs in the Philippines and many workers take a lot of classes aimed at minimizing their accent relative to the markets they target. The Philippines is the world leader in call centers because they emphasize these sort of details.
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Old Nov 19th, 2014, 06:52 AM
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Please note - the UK and Ireland are GREATER than 95% - not sure what the others are speaking.>

Well I assume like in the U.S. some recent immigrants cannot carry on a conversation in English - like the many Russians now living in London or large ethnic communities like from Pakistan - do not thing knowing English is a requisite for being allowed to immigrate - it is not the few Gaellic speaking folk because I believe they all speak English as well.
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Old Nov 19th, 2014, 06:53 AM
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" I am very surprised at Germany being over 50%. That is not our experience at all"

It absolutely is my experience. Practically none of our dealers in Germany - even around Hamburg, where they've been trading with England for 600 years, and have loads of sailors whose lingua franca was English among their customers - had any grasp of English.

In most of deep West Germany, basic daily needs require my dreadful German rather than most shopkeepers' non-existent English.

I'm actually sort of surprised at Sweden's high alleged level. Again: although most of our dealers had adequate English, practically none of their staff did. They could practically all understand simplified English, especially if written. But the research Pal Q cites is about respondents' claim to be "able to hold a conversation in English."

I suspect a lot of people - especially the young - who've never needed to hold a conversation in English are just self-deluding. They can sort of follow the odd song lyric, but just can't grasp how tricky conversations in foreign languages really are.
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Old Nov 19th, 2014, 06:57 AM
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"All the Danes I know speak English better than most of the English and most Americans.

Let's not go overboard here. Even working among professionals in Denmark, you can tell that it isn't their first language. It isn't a big deal and you can communicate fully, but you will notice quirks and gaps in the knowledge if you pay attention. "

For people of my generation they grew up watching UK TV with subtitles into Danish. So the adults I know have Zero gap in their comprehension and a better understanding of "Thunderbirds" than I ever had.
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Old Nov 19th, 2014, 07:23 AM
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So the adults I know have Zero gap in their comprehension and a better understanding of "Thunderbirds" than I ever had.

I'm speaking of nuances in grammar and vocabulary. Anyone that thinks the average Dane has it to the level of an ordinary speaker is deluding themselves. That isn't to say they don't speak English very well, but that you can tell it isn't their mother tongue.
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Old Nov 19th, 2014, 07:29 AM
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The fact that students may study English in school means that they can carry on a conversation in English is not always true.

My son grew up in France and with all his friends and relatives - dozens and dozens of them could not speak much English at all even though they had studied it in school for several years - maybe they could read some English but they could not say only rudimentary things in English - and I believe they were very typical French folks.

The fact that many Americans come back from France saying 'oh the French can speak English but they refuse' is just foolish - most that I know simply cannot.
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Old Nov 19th, 2014, 07:31 AM
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Danes and Norwegians seem to have an uncanny knowledge of English and often IME American accents from watching so much American tellie and movies but no they are not like native speakers and only a truly bi-lingual person from childhood really can.

Like Henry Kissinger who has been in the U.S. decades still has a heavy German accent.
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Old Nov 19th, 2014, 08:01 AM
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But the research Pal Q cites is about respondents' claim to be "able to hold a conversation in English.">

flanner has picked out a key point and a valid one in my experience - people who think they can converse in English may be lowering the bar to what they really can do or not.

Good point ole chap!
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Old Nov 19th, 2014, 08:19 AM
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flanner has picked out a key point and a valid one in my experience - people who think they can converse in English may be lowering the bar to what they really can do or not.>

but thinking about it this just means that every country should be lower - so the relative rankings remain the same - all figures being self-reported and allegedly by flanner and moi inflated. Meaning fewer Europeans speaka de English than thought.
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Old Nov 19th, 2014, 09:05 AM
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"but thinking about it this just means that every country should be lower"

You just can't say that.

My Polish uncle made Kissinger's English sound like he'd been born in Kensington. But both he and Kissinger were capable of having a fluent conversation.

My Italian's technically excellent (far better than my uncle's English) - but I'd think twice before claiming to be able to hold a conversation in it these days, and then almost certainly say I wasn't.

My (Italian) philology tutor at university claimed she wasn't conversationally fluent in English - though she could conduct seminars on labio-velars (and critically dissect my essays) without thinking. Most Italian waiters seem to be convinced they're fluent on the basis of knowing what the English for 'pomodoro' is.

I suspect this "survey" tells us about as little as one asking people to rate their own performance in bed.
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Old Nov 19th, 2014, 09:29 AM
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I wouldn't say I know enough of any foreign language to hold a conversation -- but I've held simple conversations in Italian, German and French. Something beyond waiter conversation. So it also depends on how you rate yourself.
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Old Nov 19th, 2014, 09:44 AM
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Yes that is a very subjective questions and certain country's peoples may have different ideas of what being conversant means - Italians inflated perhaps as flanner says, etc. But I think there is a vague validity - like Scandinavians nearly all think they are conversant and few Hungarians do - I think we can jump to some kind of conclusions there about expecting folks to speak English well or not.
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Old Nov 19th, 2014, 10:40 AM
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Swedes begin learning English when they are seven years old so no surprise to the numbers on your link.
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Old Nov 19th, 2014, 10:56 AM
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The French start at the same age as the Swedes, which is earlier than the Dutch, so starting early in school doesn't seem to really explain much.
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Old Nov 19th, 2014, 11:01 AM
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Maybe Swedes are smarter than the French?
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Old Nov 19th, 2014, 11:10 AM
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I'm pretty sure that the Dutch and the Danes have the highest percentage of fully fluent English speakers of any countries in Europe. They're both fairly small countries whose people won't find their own language spoken very much elsewhere. I suspect that the Danes are better English speakers than the Swedes or the Norwegians. At international academic conferences, as well as when traveling in these countries, I've found always a superior facility with English.

When I lived in the Netherlands, (over twenty years ago) university textbooks in many disciplines were available only in English; it would have been prohibitively expensive to do small print runs of these textbooks in Dutch and it was thought that success in these disciplines required an excellent grasp of English.

Bilbo makes it sound as though an American accent disqualifies someone as being fluent in English. When I lived there, students in the Netherlands in the larger high schools could choose whether to take courses with an American English or British English emphasis. I suspect that American television also plays a part, but regardless of the accent, they're fluent in the language.
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Old Nov 19th, 2014, 11:18 AM
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but regardless of the accent, they're fluent in the language.>

Yes again the Arnold schwarenegger and Henry Kissinger and Ziebenau (sp?) Brezinksi example of folks very fluent in English with a thick accent.
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Old Nov 19th, 2014, 11:19 AM
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Yes, re: the Netherlands. In Amsterdam, I don't think we heard any other language but English.
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