Studying and knowing English

The aim of this section was to examine how Finns experience and evaluate their own English skills.

One of the key questions in this section was to find out how long the respondents had studied English. In total 63 % of the respondents had studied English at least six years. Such a high figure confirms what previous research has also indicated: English is now a popular foreign language studied over many years at school (see Statistics Finland).

However, the survey also revealed interesting differences between social groups: for example, for the generations born before mid-1950s there were fewer opportunities for study than for generations born after it. (See more about the differences between social groups.)

Survey_duration of English studies

The distribution of the duration of English studies.


The respondents were also asked to assess their proficiency in speaking, writing, reading and listening to English. The figure below shows that 60 % of them evaluated their proficiency in spoken English as at least moderate; with the other skills their assessment of their proficiency was quite similar.

Survey_proficiency in speaking English

The distribution of the respondents’ proficiency in speaking English.


In order to evaluate the respondents’ language skills in more detail, they were also asked to state their opinion of a set of statements that show something of their attitudes towards their English skills. Those who did not know English at all were asked not to answer the question (around 10 % of the respondents).

Only 3 % of the respondents thought that they knew English as well as a native speaker, but on the other hand, as many as 82 % indicated that they wanted to learn more English.

Survey_own English skills

The respondents’ attitudes towards their own English skills. The percentages do not include respondents who answered that they do not know English at all.