Hong Kong has dropped in a global ranking on English proficiency for the second consecutive year, reviving concerns over English education becoming "stratified" under the government policy of mother-tongue teaching. On the latest English proficiency index compiled by EF English First, a Swedish-owned international English training institution, Hong Kong ranked 33rd among 70 countries and territories - a slight decline from its ranking last year of 31. TEST YOURSELF: Take the EF English Proficiency test here This year's showing continued a downward progression dating to 2011, when the city ranked 12th among 44 countries and regions. The only exception was in 2013, when the city rose from 25th to 22nd. In 2011 and 2013, Hong Kong ranked higher than South Korea and Japan, but both placed above the city in 2012, last year and this year. Although the lack of an English-speaking test caused some to question the rankings, others believed it raised valid concerns over Hongkongers' worsening English proficiency. JUST SAYING: Appalling English standards in Hong Kong: the biggest culprit is ... "If Hong Kong scored 10 out of 10 in the past, now it only has 6," said Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, a proficient English speaker herself. Mo said the government's mother-tongue teaching policy, adopted since the handover in 1997, should be blamed for the decline. She said after the policy was introduced those who had the resources sent their children either to international schools or to local schools that taught in English, before sending them to overseas universities. Those who could not enter these schools faced rote learning and drilling. “There were children telling me that they hated English very much,” Mo said. “They said English was like a nightmare. “[Children] started to learn ABC at the age of two, but when they entered university, they didn’t dare to speak English … because the whole Hong Kong society had forced them to think since their childhood that English is high class, is superior … If you are not at a school taught in English, you are a second-class student.” Jeremy Young Chit-on, a former political assistant at the Education Bureau, said he agreed that the mother-tongue teaching policy had exerted considerable pressure on pupils. Rated as “moderate proficiency”, Hong Kong ranked below Shanghai and Beijing, as well as other Asian nations including South Korea (27), Japan (30), Taiwan (31), and Indonesia (32), according to the study. COMMENT: Are English standards really falling in Hong Kong? Don't believe all you read Ming Chen, EF English First's chief culture officer, said students in Shanghai were likely to outperform those in Hong Kong because they did better in the skills required for the test. A total of 910,000 non-native English-speakers took the tests this year, which contain exams on grammar, vocabulary, reading and listening skills. Only countries and regions with a minimum of 400 test-takers were ranked, according to EF English First. Singapore, the top-ranking Asian nation, was 12th in the global index and qualified, along with Malaysia (14) and India (20), for “high proficiency” in the language. Mainland China ranked 47th - a drop of 10 places from last year.