Without drowning ourselves in outdated clichés, the questions, “Why some countries speak better English than others?” is still a valid one, which requires a more complex answer than the closeness of the language or the quality of the education system.
To start, of course, the closer a language is in terms of its origin to English, the easier it might be for native speakers to learn English and thus the more English speakers that country would have. While this may be true, some other factors like international trade routes, education, importance of the mother tongue and many more factors can determine how well a certain country speaks English.
Scandinavian Countries Are The Best Non-Native Speakers
It is no secret that Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland) have some of the most impressive results worldwide when it comes to the number of English speakers as well as their fluency.
While Scandinavian languages have numerous common elements with English, there are some other less talked about but equally important factors to consider. The first would be the quality of the education system. While Scandinavian countries are some of the richest in the world, they are also renowned for the quality of their education system. Teaching kids at a young age the importance of a second language plays a huge part in their good numbers.
The importance and number of speakers of their mother tongues also plays a big part in their success. Most Scandinavian countries are quite small in terms of population with little demand for their native language outside of their country. This means that there is no international community which can substitute English for another language like with Spanish for example. While having close ties to the United States and the UK, South America and Spain constantly register the lowest numbers of English speakers in the world; however, when taking into consideration the wide use of Spanish on a global level, the results aren’t as shocking as they might be.
Trade is another highly important yet often overlooked element when it comes to how well a certain country speaks the English language. Studies show that the more a country exports goods the higher the chances are that English is a commonly spoken second language. Malaysia is a good example for this argument. It is the best scoring English speaking country in Asia while also coming in at sixth place in the world as the most export dependent country.
Government Programs Also Play Their Part
Government planning also plays a huge key in how well a country speaks its second language. The comparison between China and India is relevant here. While India has long been known as a country with a strong English speaker presence, efforts made by the Chinese government which have been making a huge push for the teaching of English in schools are beginning to pay off. While India currently has a small, mostly upper-class minority of English speakers, over time China may undertake its Asian neighbor with a vast majority of its citizens being able to speak the language.