The English Proficiency Index (EPI) from global language training company Education First (EF) put Norway behind only the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden for non-native English proficiency.
Although the fourth place position was the same as last year's ranking, Norwegians once again improved their scores in an index they topped as recently as 2011. Norway was also one of only seven countries to receive the ‘very high’ proficiency rank.
“Norway has increased its score for three consecutive years but is still behind Sweden and Denmark. And this year the Dutch have kicked Scandinavia off the throne,” EF vice president Christen Bagger told The Local.
Norway's overall score of 68.5 out of a possible 100 was an improvement over last year’s ranking and put Norwegians just marginally behind one group of friendly rivals, the Swedes, and ahead of another, the Finns.
Singapore also earned the 'very high' distinction as the first Asian country to do so in the history of the study. Still, Europeans had the best English skills “by a wide margin” with the Nordics leading the way, EF said.
“Despite the growing emphasis on English language education around the world, no region has yet been able to approach the level of mastery of the language evident across Scandinavia,” Bagger said.
Among the study’s other findings were that women have better English skills than men in almost all countries, including Norway, where women scored a full three points higher than their male counterparts.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the 18-25 age group also performed best worldwide.
At the bottom of the 72-country study were Laos, Libya and Iraq.