It's a good idea to know a second language for lots of reasons but English has long been the business standard. 

How do cities ranks? A new list of 25 global cities has the answer.

"English proficiency is a key factor that determines where multinationals in high-growth, knowledge-based sectors choose to locate their regional hubs around the world," says Michael Lu, EF Education First Senior Vice President. "The Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai place only 19th and 21st in the survey. The language skills gap could make it harder for them to compete with Tokyo and Singapore, the highest-placed cities in Asia, as international financial centers. However, as these cities prosper, their English levels may improve rapidly."

The EF Education First English Proficiency Index is an analysis of English proficiency among 1.7 million adults in 54 countries and territories. The first EF EPI was published in 2011. The EF EPI evaluates test takers in grammar, vocabulary, reading, and listening comprehension. 

Dubai, the Middle East's leading center for international trade, ranks lowest in English language proficiency while Zurich has the best English skills among the international cities surveyed in the EF English Proficiency Index.  The top three cities in English ability are all German-speaking, with Frankfurt second and Munich third. 

Paris is the most visited city in the world but they prefer to stick with their native tongue - they rank 11th in the survey. Lu says "Locations with better English proficiency are better placed to gain share in the $6 trillion tourism market, which accounts for about 9 percent of the global economy." 

The survey also shows that people living in big cities are better at English than those in the country, with the biggest gap lying between Moscow and Russia as a whole. Few Americans or Brits visit Siberia, so that makes sense. Moscow placed 4th in the index and St Petersburg 7th.

The English proficiency country scores, which place Sweden at the top among 54 countries and territories, were published in a separate report by EF Education First in October. Research looking specifically at employees, published in November, found the Dutch workforce best at English and the Brazilians the worst.