Global Global survey of over one million adults shows worldwide trends in English proficiency
November 8, 2017: The rankings for the world’s best non-‐native English speakers were released today by EF Education First. The EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI) reveals the Netherlands still ranks first out of 80 countries in English language skills. The EF EPI launched at the UK’s House of Commons, where Sebastian Faulks, CEB, spoke about “Shakespeare, Jeeves and Texting: The endless adventure of English.”
“Given the vast sums that parents, governments, and companies invest in English training, the EF EPI serves as a valuable resource for sparking a discussion on the best ways to improve a country’s English level,” said Minh N. Tran, EF Senior Director of Research. “In today’s global economy, the advantages of learning English transcend borders.”
The EF EPI 2017 ranks 80 countries and territories based on data from more than one million adults who took the EF Standard English Test (EF SET), the world’s first free standardized English test. The EF SET provides language learners access to a high-‐quality, standardized English test. The EF SET has been used worldwide by thousands of schools, companies, and governments, where large-‐scale testing was previously cost prohibitive.
Highlights of the EF EPI 2017 include:
• For the first time, Africa is included in the EF EPI as a distinct region with nine African countries represented. Results show Africa has the largest gender gap, with African women outperforming men and scoring above the global average.
• Europe leads the world in English proficiency, with eight European countries in the top 10. The Middle East occupies the lowest ranks. • Asia has the world’s second best proficiency, but the largest gap between individual country scores.
• Colombia, Guatemala, and Panama all improved to break out of the Very Low Proficiency band, but despite significant spending on education within Latin America, the region still performs below global averages.
• Women speak English better than men, although the gap is narrower for some world regions than in previous editions of the EF EPI.
• English proficiency is linked to economic competitiveness, social development, and innovation. Countries with higher English proficiency tend to have higher average incomes, quality of life, and investment in research and development.
The EF English Proficiency Index for Schools (EPI-‐s), a companion report to the EF EPI, was also released today. The EF EPI-‐s examines the acquisition of English skills by secondary and tertiary students from 26 countries. The report finds that students do not improve their English at constant rates from year to year. The EF EPI and EF EPI-‐s reports and country fact sheets are available for download at www.ef.com/epi. The EF EPI 2017 ranking is below.