A global study of English language proficiency in 60 nations revealed that the ability of the French to master the language of Shakespeare is actually declining. And France's fear of losing its culture is to blame.



While most countries in the world are slowly improving their English proficiency skills, France is one of the few nations where standards are actually declining, a new study has revealed.


The English Proficiency Index ranked France 35th out of 60 countries where English is not the main language, putting it behind China and Italy and just ahead of the United Arab Emirates in the “low proficiency” grouping.


Most notably it was ranked last out of the European nations studied, falling behind the likes of Germany (14th) and Spain (23rd).


Perhaps unsurprisingly Sweden topped the league table ahead of Norway and the Netherlands.


“What makes the situation more remarkable is that most of Europe has either improved or already demonstrates consistently high English proficiency. France currently has the weakest English skills in Europe,” the study said.


The main problem lies with France’s fear of losing its own culture and language. The mentality of trying to protect Gallic culture has knock-on effects that harm the chances of French people learning English.


One of the problems lies in the French school system.


“French schools lack the resources compared to European neighbors. Young pupils learn English in primary school, but often the teachers’ level of English is not high. They are qualified as primary teachers, not language teachers, so often their English is just basic.”



I think it is mostly because they don't care; there's even blatant animosity towards the English language in France. The French, more than most other nations, take great pride in their language, so there's no perceived prestige in learning a language they subconsciously regard as inferior to their own. There's simply no incentive for them to improve their English.


“France's fear of losing its culture is to blame.” I think this is quite debatable. The Swedes generally speak very good English but at the same time are extremely proud about their own culture.



The Swedes may be proud of their culture as much as they want but the point is: would you be willing to learn even a bit of Swedish given that you already speak good English? Maybe yes, but most of people would not because English is sufficient to communicate with the Dutch or the Swedes.



I would say that Japanese people's English pronunciation is bad, from my personal experience. This is, as somebody mentioned before, because of the numerous consonant clusters that exist in English, whereas such clusters do not exist in Japanese.



I disagree that Chinese speakers' English is difficult to understand - yes, they might have a strong accent, but I think that in general, their English accents are very understandable, and they speak better than the Japanese. This is a very 'sweeping' statement, as I know fully that there are Chinese speakers who speak English so badly that they cannot be understood and Japanese speakers who speak English with no accent at all.