The Dutch are (once again) the best non-native English speakers in the world!

If any international in the Netherlands has experienced a (rare and fleeting) feeling of inferiority while here, it’s likely because they heard a Dutch person speaking English.

To clarify, they heard a Dutch person speaking English so well that they could be mistaken for a native speaker who also just arrived in the country.

And you’d be right in feeling this strange mix of awe and self-doubt (no offence). Why? Because according to the 2021 EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI), the Dutch are the best non-native English speakers in the world — and for the third year in a row! 🇳🇱

The best of 112 countries

We’re not just talking about a small survey consisting of 10 non-native English speakers, one of which being a Dutch person with the very appealing bribe of a warm and gooey stroopwaffel.

Nee, this survey measured the English language skills of two million people across a whopping 112 countries! 🌏

READ MORE | Why are the Dutch so good at speaking English?

Using a points system to calculate the English skills of the different countries, the EF EPI awarded the Netherlands with 663 points (11 points higher than last year), placing them in the number one position with a level of “very high proficiency.”

Amsterdam ranked as having the best non-native English speakers

The Netherlands has won the crown for not only being the best non-native English-speaking country but also for having the best non-native English-speaking city in the world. 💪

Yep, Amsterdam has been ranked the best non-native English-speaking city — and are we really surprised given how much of a hub it is for internationals?

READ MORE | Amsterdam is the second-best city in the world (say what?)

What other countries are great at speaking English?

Of course, while we at DutchReview are delighted to hear that the Dutch have won this round once again, some of you may be curious to know what other countries ranked highly.

Let’s lay out the results! The following countries were ranked as having “very high proficiency” in speaking English as a non-native language:

EF EPI 2021 RankingCountry
07 Portugal
12South Africa

Did your country rank on the list? Tell us your thoughts on these findings in the comments below!

Feature Image: william87/Depositphotos

Sarah O'Leary 🇮🇪
Sarah O'Leary 🇮🇪
Sarah originally arrived in the Netherlands due to an inability to make her own decisions — she was simply told by her mother to choose the Netherlands for Erasmus. Life here has been challenging (have you heard the language) but brilliant for Sarah, and she loves to write about it. When Sarah is not acting as a safety threat to herself and others (cycling), you can find her sitting in a corner of Leiden with a coffee, trying to sound witty.


    • Not actually true. As a native English speaker I have heard lots of Dutch speak Engkish. Accent doesn’t matter. It’s the use of the correct language and understanding of it. In the Uk I sometimes have trouble understanding the language as there are many who have very poor language skills and of course there are many accents to cope with.

    • It isn’t about is there a detectable accent, it is about vocabulary, clarity and understandability. Someone else mentioned India, however, I find Indian b accent can be very difficult although they usually have good vocabulary. The Dutch, Danes, and Swedes in particular are very easy to understand in my experience, racist to understand than many parts of the UK to my Canadian ears.

  1. Inferiority? Many other countries have youths speaking English and their own language. Nobody feels inferior that Dutch people speak English. If only they could at least speak it well cause their accents make it sound like Dutch I can’t even understand them.

    • In Portugal native portuguese still lack in english speaking ….comparatively immigrants are far more comfortable than portuguese in terms of english language..

  2. How dare they say that. Dutch people are the worst at my uni cause they’re the only ones who’s English I can’t understand cause of their heavy accents. Whatever proved that Dutch people are the best at English was probably written exams and Dutch people speaking English to Dutch people. Dutch people are the only ones who don’t know how to write words in class sometimes and I’m talking about easy ones too. If you’re proficient in English you should be able to hear a word you don’t know well and still write it down at least partially correct.

    • I disagree. At uni lots of those students are also using Dutch as a second language. Compare that to Brits and you will find less are able to even speak basic words in another language. There are many who cannot even write simple sentences in their own language. Accent doesn’t have to make a language difficult to understand as long as they try to pronounce the words correctly.

    • Whose*
      And also cough, though, thought, although
      English pronunciation just doesn’t make sense. You can’t hear a word and know how it’s written if you don’t know it beforehand.
      So, you are wrong

    • Ja nee, boet. If you think about it, despite English being one of the 11 official languages in SAfrica, how many of us are actual native English speakers? My mother tongue is Portuguese but I am still a native English Speaking SAfrican because I was taught exclusively in English medium schools. Other SAfricans, whose mother tongues are not English, also do not often have access to quality schooling either, so their English might not be as good as that taught in English medium schools in SAfrica, nevermind in the countries in the 11 places above them. I am pre Model-C schooling by the way, and when I listen to the English accents these schools produce, they are certainly way more polished than mine. Perhaps these are even skewing the numbers in favour for South Africa.

  3. this is simply false. I do not know who did the survey and how but it’s wrong. Maybe under CERTAIN specific conditions, this can be closer to the truth, but NOT in the normal everyday life (in public transportation they dont even care to have double language signs).
    Of course, being Dutch and Frysk the closest you can go to original English, it’s pretty natural that they can recognize some word, often some of the words a native English speaker would define “rare” and “hard”, but there are a whole lot of countries that can speak better English than them.
    As usual, the dutchies like to hear what they _believe_ they are, but reality is totally different.

    It is all propaganda to attract investors, just as they fo with drugs and sex.

    I am almost the only foreigner in a dutch based company, and I can assure you, it’s not easy at all: even when they try to speak English it’s so full of false friends and mistakes that I can barely understand.

    • At peast the Dutch use subtitles and they used to show children programs on Sky in the eighties, which tought them well. Subtitles, Unlike Germany or France, or US or GB themselves.

      The accent may not be there, at least we can understand. That’s 50% more than you critics.

    • Not everything in the Netherlands is about sex and drugs. There are normal people there who have never even seen drugs or been involved with them. Also in my school there are a lot of different nationalities and the only ones that speak englisch that is understandable are the dutchies.

  4. Uganda is considered by many surveys to be the best speaking English speaking country in Africa, I’d be interested to know how South Africa came ahead of it.

  5. I wonder whether the test included the pronunciation. The fact that Amsterdam scores very high is bad news: every year it is more difficult to find somebody in Amsterdam who speaks proper Dutch without using English words.

  6. where does malta stand in the rankings ? Everybody here speaks fair enough English….. from toddlers to pensioners.
    Have you never heard of Malta ? It’s a bit difficult to find on an atlas but we do exist. Check it out please.

  7. English is an official language in both Singapore and South Africa. For the Netherlands to have topped the list with both of those countries on it is a very impressive feat indeed.