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English proficiency: an Asian nation in top three for first time in survey of non-native speakers

  • Singapore ranked third, and rated ‘very highly proficient’, for English; Philippines, Malaysia ‘highly proficient’, Hong Kong only ‘moderate’
  • Results based on 1.3 million scores in free standardised English test
PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 November, 2018, 9:37am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 November, 2018, 3:13pm

A global survey on English skills has placed Malaysia in the “high proficiency” bracket with the Philippines.

The EF Education First survey covered 1.3 million adults who are non-native English speakers from 88 countries and regions.

Food for thought: new Philippine English words in OED

It ranked Malaysia at No. 22; the Philippines at 14th place.

India, Hong Kong, South Korea, Vietnam and Macau were ranked “moderate”.

EF Education First is a global company focusing on language, academic, cultural exchange and educational travel programmes.

For the first time ever, an Asian nation broke into the top three spots. Singapore ranked third, behind Sweden and the Netherlands.

For the fourth time in eight years, Sweden topped the EF English Proficiency Index (EPI) with “very high proficiency”.

The EPI is based on test scores from the EF Standard English Test (EF SET), the world’s first free standardised English test.

The survey found that women continued to outpace men in English skills worldwide.

This gender gap has been widening since 2016.

It also found that societies with higher English proficiency were more egalitarian.

Among other metrics, these countries enrol more girls in preschool and report a greater proportion of women with bank accounts.

The survey, which highlights global trends in English proficiency, was released on Tuesday.

EF senior research director Dr Minh N. Tran said the results showed that more countries and individuals were investing in English education, recognising the importance of the language as a lever for competitiveness.

“Since we started publishing this ranking, it has become the de facto reference point for governments, companies and educators when they discuss English skills.”

Europe remains the global leader in English proficiency. Eight of the top 10 spots in the ranking are held by European countries.

These are the top five ranking countries and territories in Asia, which has the largest range of English proficiencies of any region, and their corresponding EF English Proficiency Index scores:

Singapore (68.63)

Philippines (61.84)

Malaysia (59.32)

India (57.13)

Hong Kong (56.38)