The French are not the most renowned for their mastery of the language of Shakespeare, Beckham and Harry Potter and a new international ranking confirms their place near the wrong end of the rankings. The English Proficiency Index (EPI) from global language training company Education First (EF) ranked Sweden top out of 88 countries which don't have English as a national language, based on test results taken by natives in each country. Down in 35th place came France, placed in the "moderate competency" group of countries and behind all other countries in western Europe. In fact in Europe as a whole only Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Albania, Turkey and Azerbaijan were ranked lower than the French. When it comes to the level of English in big cities around the world Paris was ranked 25th, behind the likes of Shanghai, Buenos Aires, Seoul and Sofia. Within France, Paris was the city where the natives demonstrated the best level of English, just ahead of Lille and … [Read more...] about French ranked worst in western Europe for level of English
Where is western europe
As the darkly attractive Spaniard handed my wife and me our rubber suits and harnesses and began the process of zipping us in and tightening buckles, it was only natural that my thoughts should turn to our honeymoon... No, wait: it’s not what you think. There’s a perfectly innocent explanation that involves mountains, memories and a 100-year-old national park. So clear that image from your mind, and I’ll start again. Just over a century ago a chap called Pedro Pidal, Marquis of Villaviciosa and an Asturian senator, returned from a visit to Yellowstone and Yosemite in the US with a burning ambition to introduce the idea of national parks to Spain. “If we do not guard the possessed paradise between the lost paradise and the promised paradise,” he said, “we do not deserve, like Adam, to have any paradise.” Well, quite. In 1918, as a result of his efforts, Covadonga National Park was established in the Cantabrian Mountains, with the protected … [Read more...] about Like Cornwall crossed with the Dolomites – is this Europe’s most underrated destination?
Hungary's right-wing nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban railed against what he called "undemocratic" Western European states in a speech on Saturday (Jul 28) sketching out his vision for the continent's future. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban won a third consecutive term in April on a fiercely anti-migration platform and his government has repeatedly clashed with the European Commission, the EU's executive arm. (Photo: AFP/Omer Messinger) "There is liberalism in the West, there is no democracy," Orban said, speaking to a gathering of ethnic Hungarians in neighbouring Romania. He claimed that in Western European countries, "restrictions on freedom of expression and censorship have become common place." Orban also sharpened his criticisms of Brussels institutions, branding the European Commission a "symbol of failure." "The European Commission is going, we are coming," he said. In the latest of a series of disputes with Hungary over its migration policy and rule of … [Read more...] about Orban rails against ‘undemocratic’ Western Europe
The local church in Glava, western Sweden. Photo: Riggwelter/WikiCommons If you're looking to find church-attending Christians, don't look in Sweden. When it comes to Europe, Sweden is the country where you're least likely to find church-attending Christians. Yes, just 9 percent of respondents to a European survey said they went to church, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. This was the same result as in Finland, with Denmark and Belgium just one percentage point behind. At the other end of the spectrum, 40 percent of Italians surveyed said they were church-going Christians, with 35 percent in Portugal and 34 percent in Ireland. Meanwhile, Sweden was also near the end of the spectrum when it came to those who ticked "religiously unaffiliated", with 42 percent classifying themselves as such. Nearby was the Netherlands with 48 percent and 43 percent in Norway. Ireland, Italy, and Portugal each responded with 15 percent saying they were … [Read more...] about Swedes ‘least likely in Western Europe’ to go to church
Train travel in Europe is one of my favorite modes of travel. Think about it- it’s far more convenient than a bus or an airplane, you have more room to spread out, and depending on the train, you get some neat amenities like food and drink along with wifi. The trick to really enjoying train travel is finding the train that’s fast, the route has great views, and still gets you to your destination around the same time as flying would. Enter Thalys. This high-speed train currently operates in 4 countries and 25 cities. Holland, France, Belgium, and Germany are part of the route that Rail Europe offers. The beauty of riding on the Thalys is you don’t feel like you’re travelling at 300kms/hr. In fact, between the coffee and tea, the snacks, plugs (so important to stay charged) and fast Wifi that you get with the first class ticket, you feel like you’re working from home. All that comes with the added bonus of Le Salon- a VIP lounge in a few stations. … [Read more...] about Exploring Western Europe with Thalys