This article serves a purpose, to give people that are considering visiting Slovakia or live there to find out how good people in Slovakia speak the English language and give a base for your expectations.
In 2014, 26% of Slovak people were able to speak English. This number however increases every year, and you can get around with English in Slovakia just fine. Factors that influence the probability of people speaking English are age (younger the person is, more likely they speak English) and location.
Read more to find out how good people in Slovakia speaks English, how is the ability to speak English connected with various factors such as age, location, and life situation. You will also find out what level of English you can expect from public workers, commercial workers, and state authorities’ workers.
Do Slovaks Speak English?
Nearly everyone under the age of 20 speaks some English language. Every waiter and nearly all shop assistants will speak English if you visit Bratislava or Košice, or any of the larger towns. It is, however, also a matter of age.
Since we have hundreds of international students studying here and all is done in English, English is commonly spoken in the bigger university cities. The value of English has been recognized by local stores, restaurants, and utilities, as students have money to spend, and no one wants to miss out because of a language barrier.
Because of the communist dictatorship that existed in Slovakia from 1945 to 1989. Before 1989, anyone who went to school had to study Russian, and all things from the West were forbidden. That is why most of elderly people do not speak English. The first wave of teaching English came in the 1990s. That is the reason why there is a bigger chance to find someone younger who can speak English rather than someone older.
The place you are visiting is also a huge factor. If you are somewhere where tourism is a big thing, there is a bigger chance that everyone speaks English there. However, in the small villages and countryside where the population is mostly older, you will hardly find someone you can communicate with in English language.
The situation with the English language in Slovakia is however getting slowly better. The age of the internet is forcing people to communicate and find information in English. That is also the reason why older people that never adapted to new age struggle to learn and speak English because they just do not see the reason for it.
Teenagers and English
Teenagers in Slovakia are mostly speaking English because the English language is mandatory in both- elementary and high school. Combine that with a high percentage of youth who use social media every day where they follow international superstars, and you will get a high number of young people speaking English across Slovakia.
Young people and English
Same goes for young people. These people from 20 to 30 years of age all went through the education with mandatory English as their second language. However, some people did not learn English well, but there is a high chance that you can communicate basic things with them.
Middle-aged people and English
Middle-aged people from 30 to 50 years old are the group that was still in the era of communism. There is a higher chance that you will not be able to communicate in English with them but there is a high number of people working in international companies, companies that deal with foreigners and tourism companies.
Elderly people and English
There is a very small chance that if you try to speak to someone who is older than 50 years old you will succeed and have a conversation with him. Some people can speak English, but it is mostly people as I mentioned before that had to learn English because of their work or something similar. Although, most of the old people can speak Russian and German language.
TIP: Knowing what level of English to expect after coming to Slovakia is one of the main knowledge. Another is whether it is safe to drink tap water. Find out more about drinking tap water in Slovakia in the article below:
Knowledge of English Across Different Occupations in Slovakia
When visiting Slovakia, you will come into contact with various employees, whether taxi drivers, restaurants, or various public institutions. Therefore, it is good to know where you will have no problem speaking English and, conversely, where it will be worse with English.
The following tables provide information on the level of English you can expect from the most common occupations you come in contact with.
|Occupation||Knowledge of English|
|Taxi Drivers||Most of the taxi drivers speak at least basic English.|
|Bus Drivers||Not a lot of bus drivers speak English very well.|
|Train Workers||Most of the workers speak English due to a lot of tourists traveling by trains.|
|Information Centers||It is mandatory to speak English to provide tourists with valuable information.|
|Occupation||Knowledge of English|
|Shops||Most of the places have at least someone young working there so |
there is a big chance you can speak English in most of the shops in Slovakia.
|Good English like in most of the commercial area places.|
|Tourist guides speak perfect English.|
|Hotels||Good English is a mandatory for every receptionist in hotels and overall.|
|Occupation||Knowledge of English|
|Police||Most of them speak English, they always work in a pair so there is big chance|
at least one of them speaks English. They also have translators at police station
just in case.
|Some speak some do not. However, same as police, |
they have workers that usually help with communication in English.
(Doctors, Nurses etc.)
|Good level of English. Most of the doctors and nurses speak at least basic English.|
TIP: Ordering a taxi to take you to the booked hotel is one of the first activities after arriving in Slovakia. And for most tourists, the first place in Slovakia to visit is Bratislava. Find out more about taxis in Bratislava in the article below:
What Other Languages Slovaks Speak?
Thanks to communism, you will find a lot of- mostly older people that speak Russian language or German language. If you go close to any border there is a big chance that people there speak the language of the neighbor country (Hungarian, Polish, German, Ukrainian language).
In overall 99% understand and can speak Czech language thanks to Slovak and Czech Republic being one country called Czechoslovakia which was canceled in 1993. Most of the kids watch cartoons and TV shows in Czech dubbing from an early age.
A lot of people in Slovakia have roots or families from Hungary, especially in the south part of the country. Thanks to that you hear a lot of people on the street talking in Hungarian. Hungarian is also in some cities and villages near the south border with Hungary second language, which is even spoke in schools more than Slovak. In the year 2020, 8,2% of people living in the Slovakia has also Hungarian nationality.
In the year 2011- 80,7% of inhabitants speaks Slovak, 8,5% speaks Hungarian, 2% speaks Gypsy language and 1,8% speaks other languages (Polish, Ukrainian etc.) These numbers represent people that have those languages as their mother language.
Of course, this is a rather simplistic viewpoint; there are young people who do not speak English or any other language, and older people who speak four or more languages; it all depends on the circumstances of everyone’s life and their willingness to learn languages. In those days, it was a luxury, not a requirement. But the overall situation is improving, and the number of English-speaking people is increasing every year.
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