Worldwide English trends revealed in survey of over two million adults
EF Education First (EF) today released the 2022 edition of its EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI), analysing data from 2.1 million non-native English speakers in 111 countries and regions. The Netherlands retained first place, while Singapore surged to second, cracking the top three again since becoming the first ASEAN nation to do so in 2018.
“Vietnam has seen a remarkable recovery in English proficiency in the past year. For the first time ever, it can boast about having left the Low Proficiency band and entered the Moderate Proficiency band of countries. This can partly be attributed to the reopening of the country and the resumption of face-to-face teaching after the pandemic”, Alexander Floren, Country Manager for EF Vietnam told Vietnam Insider.
“Globally, this year’s index reflects the pandemic’s impact –from a concerning decline in English proficiency among young people to unexpectedly high proficiency outside big cities, which has remote work implications,” said EF EPI author Kate Bell. “The report tracks stories of remarkable progress and discouraging setbacks.”
The EF EPI is based on scores from the EF Standard English Test(EFSET), used by governments, companies, and schools for large-scale testing as well as millions of individual test takers.
Key findings of the EF EPI 2022 include:
- Vietnam climbed to 60th place in the ranking from 66th place last year and 65th place in 2020.
- Vietnam’s neighbours continue to drop in the index. Notable drops are China (from 49th place 2021 to 62nd 2022) and Philippines (from 18th place 2021 to 22nd 2022).
- Out of the ASEAN countries, Vietnam ranks higher than everyone apart from Singapore (2nd) Philippines (22nd) and Malaysia (24th)
- Asia’s regional average declined slightly due to drops in for example the Philippines and China, although most countries surveyed improved somewhat and three (including Vietnam) climbed into a higher proficiency band.
- English proficiency improved for adults over 25, with over 40s improving the most. Proficiency among adults 21 –25 was unchanged but declined for the 18-20 cohort by a striking 50 points since 2020.
- In Europe, lower-proficiency groups are catching up, with large countries bordering the European Union fuelling the region’s continuing rise. Europe is the only region where young adults have not lost ground.
- Central and South America continue to improve remarkably; but have the widest age-related score difference in the world, with scores for the 18-20 cohort declining significantly since 2020.
- This year, the gender gap has widened, with men’s English proficiency continuing to outpace women. This appears to be driven by biased education systems or unequal access.
- Large cities don’t always have the best English. Of the 500+ cities measured, 130 did not outscore their region and another 130 barely did. This has implications for recruitment given the shift toward remote work.
- English proficiency in Africa and the Middle East was stable. Outcomes remain stubbornly low across ages in the Middle East, although a narrowing gender-related proficiency gap is a positive development. Africa has some of the widest proficiency gaps in the world, both in age and gender.
- The EF EPI report is available for download at ef.com.vn/epi. EF Education First provides culturally immersive education through language, travel, cultural exchange, and academic programs in over 100 countries. Founded in Sweden in 1965, EF’s mission is opening the world through education.
EF Vietnam will host a webinar about the 2022 EPI on the 15th November at 5pm Vietnamese time, the topic is “EF English Proficiency Index 2022: Key takeaways for Vietnam”
- Date & Time: 17:00, Tuesday 15/11/2022
- The webinar link is https://efedu.zoom.us/s/82310109463