The Spanish may have come a long way from the stereotype waiter epitomised by Manuel in Fawlty Towers but 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 the Netherlands top out of 100 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 Spain placed in the “moderate competency” group of countries and behind all other countries in the European Union bar one.
The only good news is that Spain beat Italy for its English language competency, but only just. Spain was awarded 55.46 while Italy was just behind at 55.31.
In Europe as a whole, those performing worse were Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Albania, Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan.
The report also gave a breakdown of the level of English across the regions in Spain and the Basques came out on top as the only region in Spain to actually score a “high proficiency” level.
The Basque Country was followed by Madrid, Navarre, Galicia and Catalonia.
Spain’s western region of Extremadura recorded the weakest proficiency with just 52.29 but surprisingly for regions so reliant on tourism, the Balearic Islands, Murcia and the Canary Islands also ranked low.
In terms of cities though, Barcelona beat Madrid into the “high proficiency” category with a score of 57.97 while Madrid was renegaded to the “moderate proficiency” group with 57.35.
However, the report does highlight that Spaniards have in fact improved their English.
They may not be rising in the rankings but in the first study of its kind back in 2011, Spain earned a ranking of “low proficiency” and an EF EPI score of 49.1