non speaking

Top 7 non-native English-speaking countries for overseas students in 2024:

Almost every other university around the world offers English-taught programmes these days to minimise the challenges for international students while studying abroad and communicating. As per the reports, about 1.5 billion people speak English as their native or second language.

According to the annual study conducted by international education company Education First (EF), the Netherlands continues to top the chart for English language skills. The Netherlands also has the number one spot in Europe out of 34 countries.

The top seven countries with the best non-native English speakers in the EF English Proficiency Index 2023 include the Netherlands, Singapore, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Belgium. This data is based on the EFSET English test results taken by 2.2 million adults.

It is witnessed that, except in Singapore and South Africa, people in European countries have the highest English proficiency.


The Netherlands is widely renowned for offering a wide range of programmes taught in the English language. The country retained its top spot for the best non-native English speakers in the world for the fifth consecutive year. It has been ranked first in the EF English Proficiency Index 2023, as it scored 647 on the scale of 800.

Over the past decade, it has been observed that the Netherlands has attracted a good number of students.


Singapore has one of the best education systems in the world. The country ranks second for the best English speakers, holding 631 points. However, when the rank of Singapore is checked in Asia, it is ranked first for English skills out of 23 countries.

According to the data from the International Trade Administration, there are around 50,000 international students in Singapore. Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, India, China, and South Korea are the top countries sending students to Singapore.


Austria is consistently ranked among the top countries for English proficiency, according to the EF English Proficiency Index. With an overall score of 616, Austria stands out as a leading English-speaking nation. The country hosts approximately 390,000 students, a quarter of whom are international students pursuing education in Austria.


Denmark makes up the top four for English language proficiency, overtaking Norway. Moreover, the Ministry of Education and Science reveals that one in every ten university students studying in Denmark is an international student.


English has become the predominant language in Norway, with approximately 90 percent of the population speaking the language at some point in time. This proficiency is largely attributed to the early introduction of English education.

Norway currently hosts over 24,000 international students, indicating a rise from the 2021 figure of 22,450. However, there has been a noticeable decline in student applications from non-EEA countries, with a 45% decrease reported by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).


Sweden ranks sixth in English proficiency, boasting an overall score of 609. During the academic year 2021–22, Swedish universities welcomed a total of 39,806 international students, with approximately 28,000 of them participating in exchange programmes.


Belgium holds the seventh position globally for English proficiency. In the academic year 2022–23, there was a notable increase in student enrollment, with approximately 279,000 students compared to 237,000 in 2016–17.

Data from the OECD indicates a rising trend in international student numbers in Belgian higher education institutions, with approximately 52,100 students attending in 2021, marking a 10 percent increase from 2019.

Which countries top the chart for ‘Low English Proficiency’?

There are some countries that attract international students despite having a low level of English language proficiency. According to the reports, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has the lowest level of English proficiency of any country in the world. Tajikistan, Yemen, Libya, and Rwanda are ahead of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Other least English-speaking countries with their scores are:

  • Jordan (431)
  • Sudan (430)
  • Cambodia (421)
  • Haiti (421)
  • Oman (418)
  • Angola (416)

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