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Why the level of English in your country is so important

Why the level of English in your country is so important

English skills matter because they give people access to a wider range of information, a more diverse, international network, and more job opportunities than ever before. They also matter at the national level because they can tell us a lot about a country’s level of innovation, competitiveness, and future prospects.

In EF Education First’s 2022 English Proficiency Index (EF EPI), we compiled test data from 2.1 million adults and used this data to rank nations according to their English skills.

The following are key findings from this year’s report:

  • English proficiency increases a society’s connectedness, with the report showing that places with higher English proficiency are fairer and more open.

  • Levels in Europe are still the highest in the world and continue to progress, with lower-proficiency groups catching up.

  • Asia’s regional average dropped slightly due to lower scores in China and the Philippines. Most countries, however, improved somewhat, moving into a higher proficiency band.

  • Levels in Latin America are among the fastest-growing in the world, but young people in the region have seen their scores drop significantly since 2020. This is most likely due to long school closures during the pandemic.

  • While Africa’s regional score has remained stable, levels continue to vary significantly between men and women and among different age cohorts.

  • Levels in the Middle East have not changed much in the last decade. However, the gender-related proficiency gap has somewhat decreased in the region.

This year’s results also cemented some enlightening correlations between levels of English and greater connectivity, higher levels of innovation and technological adoption, and social mobility.

On an individual level, the following findings also stood out:

  • For the first time last year, men outpaced women globally in English proficiency. Men now have higher scores than women in every region of the world and in two-thirds of the countries surveyed, although in some cases those gaps are small.

  • English proficiency has risen significantly among all cohorts over 25 since 2015, however proficiency among the youngest cohort is declining.

  • English increases economic competitiveness. Organizations with operational proficiency in English are able to attract more diverse talent and draw on ideas from a larger range of sources. Individual English-speakers are better positioned for collaboration both internally and internationally.

  • English proficiency levels are higher in big cities compared to rural areas, but a country’s top performing city is rarely its capital.

Although the findings of the EF EPI do not tell the whole story, they do tell an important one: high English proficiency levels are part and parcel of a future that is prosperous, connected, and healthy.

They also underscore the critical importance of skills that make individuals, companies, and societies more internationally connected and adaptable in the face of ever-accelerating technological change.

As the 2022 EF EPI report points out:

“Languages connect us. They are the medium by which we share ideas, preserve knowledge and create culture. This is true of any language, but English, because so many people speak it, has the potential to be a powerful driver of dialog, diversity and inclusion over the coming decade, if only everyone has an equal opportunity to learn it.”

For full national rankings and analysis of the relationship between your country’s English skills and its economy, level of innovation, and connectivity, go to www.ef.com/epi.

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