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EF English Proficiency Index: Why English is important in a globalized world

Many would call English the most important language to know. As the world continues to move in a globalized direction, English has prevailed as a critical asset to students, professionals and innovators alike.

Knowledge of the English language highly correlates with success in education, innovation and attaining high-level career positions. To illustrate the importance of English in our globalized world, we can use the results from the 2020 EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI).

The EF EPI report derives from the results of over 2,200,000 EF Standard English Test (EF SET) participants. The report contains information regarding English proficiency and its implications in countries around the world.

English proficiency correlates with innovation

An important finding of the EF EPI report is the correlation between English and Innovation. One graph clearly shows the linear correlation between countries scoring high on the EF EPI and the Lanvin & Monteiro 2020 Global Talent Competitive Index, with the countries scoring low on one index also scoring low on the other.

EF EPI - English and Talent

Countries with higher English levels better attract, retain, grow, and compete for talent.

A similar correlation is visible between English proficiency and the World Bank 2018 Scholarship index. Poor performers on the EF SET published fewer Scientific and Technical Journal Articles, with higher English proficiency countries publishing the most.

As shown by these findings, learning English is a powerful tool for students who want to best utilize their talents and expand their academic achievement.

English-proficient countries produce changemakers

The EF EPI also shows that English speakers were more likely to contribute to the openness of society, being more internationally mobile, politically involved and progressive.

There is also a correlational relationship between the findings from the EF EPI and the Anholt 2018 Good Country Index – a report showing which countries contribute most to the world outside of their borders. Similar to the English and Innovation findings, countries with the highest English scores also landed highest on the distribution and those with the poorest scores on the lowest. Those hoping to become more internationally involved should consider learning English to be a necessary step.

EF EPI - International Engagement

Countries scoring high in English Proficiency contribute the most to the world outside of their borders.

Countries scoring high in English Proficiency contribute the most to the world outside of their borders.

The Gender Gap is lesser in countries with the highest English levels

When considering the 2019 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap index, countries with the lowest health, economic and educational gender gaps also score the highest on the EF EPI. This finding is no surprise given the correlations between English speaking and progressive political involvement.

Even though learning English may not necessarily lead directly to these international engagement and gender equality outcomes, the above correlations indicate that these goals warrant learning English for best results.

Exceptional results for high English proficiency countries in the realms of economic and career achievement were also detailed in the 2020 EF EPI report.

The results from the EF SET correlate closely with the results from other prominent English proficiency tests like the TOEFL iBT test, indicating that our results were not much differentiated from other international English level data, even when derived using a unique design and participant group.

Know your level

It is evident that English is important for young scholars, as well as future innovators and leaders. However, many global citizens have not yet taken the steps to learn English. This is nothing to feel ashamed of, but your child should at least know where they stand with their English level.

If your child’s English does not currently meet the proficiency mark, you can help them to improve their capabilities. Likewise, it can be gratifying for your child to know if their English is strong, even if they aspire to improve it.

Your children can evaluate their English level by taking the brief EF SET test here.

Test your English in 15 minutes Take the free EF SET

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