The level of English among adults in Austria is rated as “high” but is lower than in the top ranking countries, which were Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Finland. Germany placed 11th and Switzerland trailed behind in 19th place.
Along with Germany and Switzerland, Austria had done a good job of improving English teaching in recent years, the study from EF found. Austria ranks 10th out of 70 nations and recorded a slight decrease of 1.24 on last year’s score.
Austrians aged between 18 and 20 have a far higher English proficiency than other age groups, something the report authors note is “a positive indicator for the future”.
For the first time the study has revealed the connection between countries' English levels and their achievements in innovation, by looking at metrics such as technology exports and spending on research and development.
“Countries with higher English proficiency have more researchers and technicians per capita,” said the report.
“The ability to learn from the research of others, participate in international conferences, publish in leading journals, and collaborate with multinational research teams is dependent upon excellent English,” it concluded.
The report also found that correlations between countries' English ability and Gross National Income per capita, quality of life and internet connectivity remained strong and stable.
France was notable for failing to even make it into the top half of the 70 countries tested worldwide, coming in at just 37th place.