In recent years the number of Europeans who speak English — and speak it well — has soared. The EF English Proficiency Index, whose online test rates adults around the world, has found annual gains since it began in 2011. Of the 27 countries it ranks as highly or very highly proficient, 22 are in Europe.
About 80 percent of primary school students on the Continent study it (up from about 60 percent in 2004), and 94 percent of high school students take English, far more than all other foreign languages combined.
The linguist Marianne Hundt of the University of Zurich says common errors like “we need to discuss about this” or “I want some advices” could enter native speech.
A few jobs still require perfect English, but in the corporate world good English has become a basic requirement, not a personal selling point. “You just have the same skill as other people — it’s like using Excel,” says Kate Bell, of the EF English Proficiency Index.
(Parlez-Vous Anglais? Yes, of Course. By Pamela Druckerman, The New York Times, Aug. 10, 2019)
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