Switzerland's English levels are plummeting: a new challenge for businesses! 

A survey published by Education First (EF) shows that Swiss people's English level is falling. What are the consequences for businesses?

English is the most widely spoken language in the world, and an fundamental asset for companies seeking to expand internationally. However, the level of English spoken in Switzerland has been in freefall for several years.  

According to a survey conducted by Education First (EF), Switzerland now ranks 30th out of 113 countries and regions. This has major implications for Swiss companies, which need to react quickly to remain competitive on the international stage.

Let's dive in. 

The survey results 

Switzerland's position in relation to other European countries 

The survey, which measures the level of English of over 2 million people in 113 countries and regions, ranks Switzerland 30th in the world, with a score of 553. A moderate level, and well below the European average of 578.

On top of this, Switzerland has dropped 12 places compared to 2021, the biggest drop in Europe. This drop can be explained by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted the education system and opportunities to learn English.

Regional differences 

The survey reveals major regional disparities in Switzerland. The Berne region scored highest (621), followed by Zurich (614) and Geneva (605). The worst-performing regions were Ticino (491) and Valais (488).

These major differences in levels of English are explained by official languages and local language policies:

  • German-speaking regions tend to favour learning English as a first foreign language.
  • French-speaking regions tend to favour learning German.
  • The Italian-speaking and Romansh-speaking regions prefer either French or German.

Disparities between men and women, and between generations 

The survey also shows that Swiss women have a slightly higher level of education than men (557 compared to 550). But this gap is narrowing compared to previous years.

Young adults (aged 21-25) are the most proficient in English, with an average score of 593. Seniors (aged 41 and over) are the least proficient, with an average score of 525.

These results suggest that English is more highly valued among the younger generations, who have more exposure to the language through the media, travel and cultural exchanges.

The consequences for Swiss companies 

The decline in the level of English spoken by the Swiss is having a negative impact on businesses, which have to face up to increased competition on the global market.

English is the language of business par excellence, and a key skill for communicating with foreign customers, partners and suppliers.

According to the English at Work survey conducted by Cambridge English and QS, 96% of Swiss companies believe that English is important for their business.

A low level of English can therefore be detrimental to the performance and competitiveness of Swiss companies with :

  • Potential loss of opportunities for growth, collaboration and innovation.
  • Reduced motivation and confidence among employees, who may feel frustrated or stressed when they have to express themselves in a language they do not master.
  • An impact on the image and reputation of the company, which may appear less professional or less credible in the eyes of international contacts.

Solutions available to Swiss companies 

Faced with this alarming situation, Swiss companies need to react and invest in training their employees to improve their English level. The best solution is to use a specialised language training organisation that offers English courses tailored to the employee's starting level, learning preferences, assignments and industry.

Why use a language centre rather than an online learning app? Because English lessons with an instructor will allow you to:

  • Tailor courses to the needs of each employee.
  • Encourage adapting teaching methods to suit learning preferences.
  • Improve their motivation and commitment to training.
  • Accelerate progress.

Choose Formations&Co to improve your staff's English 

Formations&Co is an expert in corporate English language courses, and offers a unique and innovative approach in Switzerland: Speak'Pro.

Our method focuses on three pillars:  

  • The MyLEA learning preferences analysis.
  • The creation of personalised language courses based on the employee's current level and the level to be reached, their learning preferences and their assignments.
  • Theuse of professional coaching to remove obstacles that are not related to language learning (such as fear of public speaking).

This personalised approach reduces the time taken to train an employee in English by an average of 20% (compared to a non-personalised method) and rapidly improves their level of English.

To find out more, head to our dedicated page.

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