Just recently released, the Sixth Annual Edition of the Education First (EF) English Proficiency Index (EPI) puts the Netherlands at the top of all countries in its proficiency, replacing Sweden, which was No. 1 in the previous edition. And when one reviews the entire list of 72 nations ranked, it appears that—based on the size of the market and the degree of English proficiency—India appears to have the greatest potential for growth as a market for overseas visitors to the United States.
This sixth edition of the EF EPI ranks 72 countries and territories is based on test data from more than 950,000 adults who took our online English tests in 2015. The report looks at the relationship between English and a range of economic and social indicators, including earning power, innovation, and connectivity.
First, a look at the table of all of the nations ranked, along with their EFPI (See explanation below table), as compiled by the Inbound Report.
Why Such a Study? In a world where integration is the norm, says EF, English “has become the medium of cross-cultural communication for a growing number of people in an increasingly diverse set of situations. No skill since literacy has held such potential to increase the efficiency and earning power of so many. The impact of English on the global economy is undeniable.”
Over the past decade, EF has tested the English skills of millions of adults around the world. Each year, EF publishes the EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI), a worldwide benchmark for measuring and tracking adult English proficiency over time. The EF EPI adds to ongoing discussions about the strategic importance of English in the world today.
This sixth edition of the EF EPI ranks 72 countries and territories based on test data from more than 950,000 adults who took EF’s online English tests in 2015. The first section of the report looks at the relationship between English and a range of economic and social indicators, including earning power, innovation, and connectivity. The second section examines the position of English in four different regions of the world – Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) – and discusses the challenges and opportunities that countries in these regions experience as they strive to develop English-speaking workforces.
Highlights of this year’s findings include the following:
- -English is a key component of economic competitiveness at both the individual and national levels. -Higher English proficiency correlates with higher incomes, better quality of life, more dynamic business environments, greater connectivity, and more innovation.
- Women are better than men. In nearly all countries surveyed, women have stronger English skills than men. Women speak English better than men in almost all countries and age groups. This finding has been consistent across all editions of the EF EPI.
- The range of English proficiency is broader than we have ever found. Both Asia and Europe have at least one country in each of the five proficiency bands.
- English proficiency in Europe remains the strongest in the world by a wide margin, with Northern European countries occupying the top five positions in this year’s index.
- For the first time ever, an Asian country, Singapore, is in the highest proficiency band. Malaysia and the Philippines are also in the top 15 countries worldwide.
- Though the decline is slight, Latin America is the only region with an average proficiency level that has dropped in the past year.
- Countries in the Middle East and North Africa are uniformly in the lowest proficiency bands, and in most MENA countries, English proficiency is not improving.
- Young adults aged 18-25 have the strongest English proficiency worldwide, although some countries have markedly different national trends.
- English skills are a basic requirement in today’s global economy. Mastery of a language is difficult and expensive, but parents and professionals understand the value of investing in English training, and companies and governments recognize the link between workforce English and long-term competitiveness in the 21st century.
Major Regions of the World, with the EFPI scores of key countries:
About EF: In the early 1960s, a young Swedish man named Bertil Hult traveled to England for the first time. As a dyslexic, school had always been a challenge for him. But he was surprised by how effortlessly he picked up English in England.
Hult became convinced that traditional classroom-based teaching was not always the most effective. In 1965, he decided to start a small company called Europeiska Ferieskolan (European Holiday School – EF for short) that combined language learning with travel abroad. He called the program Språkresor, or Language Travel, which provided one of the world’s first hands-on learning experiences outside the classroom.
Today, EF is a multibillion-dollar tour, travel and education program spanning the globe. It employs more than 40,000 people in 53 countries.