why do scandinavians speak english so well

Unkind people would say that the reason the Dutch, in particular, are excellent speakers of the English Language, and compulsorily begin learning it at a very early age is because their own spoken Language is hardly music to the ear! Unlike well spoken standard English the Dutch Language is extremely guttural and harsh in comparison with English which, as has been stated in previous posts, originates from the same source historically, more or less. Indo European of the northern variety within Europe itself. As with German and some other same group Languages Dutch retained this gutturality and harshness whereas English evolved into a softer, smoother tongue with fewer sounds which can grate on the ear of English speakers especially. You only have to sample the pleasures of travelling on an Amsterdam tram, for example, and listen to the locals around you chatting to experience that!. if you're lucky enough to have locals on the tram and not just a whole range of other nationalities in this very beguiling, Euro-liberal minded and cosmopolitan European city ;-) However, you can bet your next month's salary that everyone of those Dutch speakers on that tram would readily switch to nigh on word perfect English if you engaged them in conversation.

A Dutch person with little or no knowledge of English probably doesn't exist. The Dutch are amongst the most spontaneously friendly and down to earth people in the world! An inability to speak and/or understand English and the capability to respond competently in the Language is extremey rare in most other countries of North West Europe as well - such as Germany and all the Scandinavian countries. I exclude France here (always a wee bit of a maverick is our France! ) - and perhaps, just perhaps but much less likely, some parts of Belgium, too, but even in these countries an acquistion of a working knoweldge of Engish is now much more common than it once was - a sign of the very high profile (I hesitate to use the word supremacy! ) the English Language now has within the EU and those countries which have not yet joined the European Union.

That leaves our dear friends the Swiss down there in gloriously beautiful Switzerland. well, they've always been chronically and neutrally independent haven't they? Even so they are one of the most multi lingual of all our European nation states, of necessity on geographical and commercial grounds if nothing else, and a Swiss over the age of seven or eight who is unable to conduct even a moderately reasonable conversation in English must be about as rare as a 9 bank-note.
Scandinavians seem to speak English better than some people born in the UK, why do Danish, Norwegian and Swedish people speak many more languages than your average UK national?

Here Peter Hansen, The Translation PeopleБs Senior Production specialist and a native Dane, investigates the reasons whyБ Most Scandinavian children start learning English in their third year at school, usually around the age of nine, and continue until they leave school at sixteen or seventeen. Those who go onto secondary education and perhaps higher education (university), will learn or use English well into their twenties. The Бglobal villageБ has made communication among the worldБs countries more important than ever. With rising political, financial and cultural interaction it is imperative that people are able to understand each other, and English has become the language of international communication. The three Scandinavian languages are spoken by a relatively small number of people Б fewer than twenty million in Denmark, Norway and Sweden combined Б and learning a foreign language is therefore seen as a vital means of staying in touch with the outside world.

The practice of teaching English to children of a relatively young age could be seen as something done out of necessity as Бso few speak our language, and so many do notБ, but one could also take the view that it is the basis for getting to know and understand the world and its people. Televised media in Scandinavia is usually aired in the original language in which it was produced, English language films, soap operas, dramas and documentaries proliferate Scandinavian media. It seems almost impossible to avoid English when living in Denmark, Sweden or Norway; as English is heard everywhere it reinforces those classroom lessons and helps perfect ScandinavianБs grasp of English. In contrast if you were to tune into a mainstream foreign language film in the UK, more often than not you would discover an English voiceover which further limits the UKБs access to foreign languages.

However, even though we have established that Scandinavians are highly proficient English speakers, fluency is only really ever achieved by immersing yourself in the language and living in a country where English is the predominant language. However, this is not always practical or desirable for a lot of people. The Translation People are aware that a number of companies target their Scandinavian customers in English. From all the facts above, this seems like a sensible option, however even those people who are completely fluent in a second language can miss linguistic nuances and could even be offended if they misunderstand certain text. Here at The Translation People we would always recommend translating your written document into the language of your target option, to ensure that nothing gets lost in linguistic misunderstanding.