English proficiency level of Chinese adults rises steadily

China Plus Published: 2017-11-09 21:12:22
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Visitors read the English version of the popular set of Shanghai Maths exercise books "One Lesson One Exercise" during the 2017 Shanghai Book Fair in Shanghai on August 22, 2017. [Photo: IC]

Visitors read the English version of the popular set of Shanghai Maths exercise books "One Lesson One Exercise" during the 2017 Shanghai Book Fair in Shanghai on August 22, 2017. [Photo: IC]

The English proficiency level of Chinese adults has risen steadily in recent years, according to the EF English Proficiency Index 2017.

The index, designed to measure adult English proficiency around the world, ranked 80 non-native English speaking countries and regions based on test data from more than one million adults who took the EF Standard English Test (EF SET) in 2016.

China was ranked the 36th place, the highest level since the first EF English Proficiency Index was published in 2011 by EF Education First, an international education company that focuses on language, academics, and cultural experience.

According to the index, the three Chinese cities with highest English proficiency are Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Beijing.

Benefiting from the government's pragmatic education reform and a positive international exchange posture, Chinese educators are gradually adopting a more communicative approach to teaching English.

Worldwide, Netherlands ranks top in terms of English proficiency of adults among the 80 surveyed countries and regions, followed by Sweden and Denmark. The index shows Europeans have the best scores in English, slightly higher than those of Asia, the second highest scoring region. The average English proficiency score in Latin America is catching up, just two points behind Asia.

The report has also profiled 20 major English learning initiatives from around the world, ranging from curricular reform and teacher training to online learning platforms for working professionals. These initiatives showcase various approaches countries can take to improve their English skills.

The report suggested that countries with higher levels of English proficiency tend to enjoy more service exports, better internet access, and more investment in research and development than those with lower English proficiency. These strong correlations have been consistent across all seven editions of the EF English Proficiency Index, as better English facilitates the exchange of ideas and services, with more people gaining access to international opportunities, which in turn improves their English proficiency.

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