With a total EF EPI score of 61.58, Belgium as a whole ranks 12th worldwide in the list. But if we zoom in on the country’s autonomous regions, it becomes evident that Flanders – Belgium’s northern region – obtains a higher score of 65.45. As a result, the Dutch-speaking region comes in at an impressive 7th place worldwide for English language proficiency.
The people of Flanders are among the global top 10 when it comes to their knowledge of the English language. According to the 2017 English Proficiency Index (EPI) – published last week by international organization Education First (EF) – Flanders comes in at an impressive 7th place in the ranking of non-native speakers of the language of Shakespeare & Co.
Education First highlighted some key findings that explain high English proficiency results like those of Flanders. These include the facts that:
- English is taught as a required foreign language for all students starting from a young age;
- English classes at all levels use a communicative approach rather than emphasizing grammatical accuracy, while numerous university courses and programs use English as one of the languages of instruction;
- local citizens travel widely and benefit from everyday exposure to English in the workplace and on television, where programs are subtitled rather than dubbed.
The EF ranking isn’t the only one where people of Flanders achieve top scores for language skills. In the PISA 2015 research study (published at the end of 2016), students from the region not only claimed the number 5 position in Europe for reading skills, but also the 10th place worldwide.
Furthermore, students from Flanders and Belgium as a whole also performed very well on the 2015 TOEFL test, the most widely recognized English-language assessment in the world. With a score of 98, they came in at 4th place worldwide.
With Dutch as its official language, Flanders (Dutch: Vlaanderen) is the northern region of Belgium. The capital of both Belgium and Flanders is Brussels.