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English Proficiency Index (EF EPI)

ABOUT EF EPI

Seven countries join the index for the first time: Estonia, Slovenia, Latvia, Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Jordan, and Iraq. Three have been removed due to insufficient data: Dominican Republic, Syria, and Pakistan.

The first two editions of the EF EPI used archival data spanning three years each from 2007 to 2009 and 2009 to 2011, respectively. Due to the overwhelming interest generated by the previous two reports, we have decided to publish the EF EPI annually from this edition forward using a single year’s data. This annual report format will allow us to capture and report trends as they occur.

In this third EF EPI report, we have used test data from the 750,000 adults who took our English tests in 2012 to create the global country rankings, while at the same time analyzing the English proficiency trends that have emerged over the past six years (2007 to 2012), using test data from nearly five million adults.

We zoom in on ten countries and one territory to consider the contexts for the improvement in English skills in China, Russia, Spain, and Brazil; the stagnation in Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Italy, Germany, and Mexico; and declining English skills in France. These eleven spotlights illustrate the diversity of the challenges faced and strategies devised to train a capable workforce for today’s globalized economy.

This third edition of the EF EPI ranks a total of 60 countries and territories, up from 44 in the first edition and 54 in the second edition.

METHODOLOGY

The EF English Proficiency Index calculates a country’s average adult English skill level using data from two different EF English tests completed by hundreds of thousands of adults every year. One test is open to any internet user for free. The second is an online placement test used by EF during the enrollment process before students start an English course. Both include grammar, vocabulary, reading, and listening sections.

The open online test is a 30-question adaptive exam, so each test-taker’s questions are adjusted in difficulty according to his or her previous correct and incorrect answers. The non-adaptive test is 70 questions in length. All scores have been validated against EF’s course levels. The test administration is identical for both tests, with test takers completing the exam on computers.

There is no incentive for test takers to inflate their scores artificially on these low-stakes tests by cheating or cramming, as the results do not lead to certification or admission to a program.

Future editions of the EF EPI will feature data from the EF Test of English – the world’s first free standardized English test available online to any English learner. To participate, click here.

A shared language is a necessary tool when communication is no longer tied to geography. English is that tool, now more than ever.