This year the best country in English is Netherlands with a grade of 71,45/100 and the worst country is Laos with a grade of 37,56/100. Every year the EF English Proficiency Index measures the level of English of different countries which have not English as official first language. In 2017, the EF English Proficiency Index measured the level of English in 80 countries and ranked the countries. The measure is made with an online test that measures grammar, comprehension, and expression.
THE HEAD OF THE CLASS
The class TOP 5 is Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Singapore with grades between 71,45 to 66,03/100. The first thing that appears in this measure is that in the top 5, four countries are northern Europe countries with close cultural and political systems. EF English Proficiency Index finds a correlation between the countries development (HDI), economic health and the level of English. Indeed, countries with a good economic health and important Human Development Index (HDI) are more likely to improve their opening to the world and afterward their level of English. We can find Norway, Denmark, and Singapore in the top 5 of DHI.
According to Luca Lampariello, expert in nordic education, we can explain the fact that Nordic countries have such a good level of English because English learning has an important place in northern European education. “On the subject of English: anything between 80 – 90% of Scandinavians speak English, compared to Italy’s 10-20 %.“ Indeed, it’s been about 10 years that English is compulsory from primary to secondary schools. Since the age of 3 young Northern European learn English. Indeed, it’s essential to communicate with the world because their national languages are speaks by only about 20 million people in the world. Moreover, he add “The biggest contributor to the success of Scandinavians in language learning is their consumption of English media. Scandinavians watch a lot of movies and TV series from America in English, whereas Italians dub almost everything from America into Italian. This is an important difference because it means that Scandinavians are not only exposed to English early on in their lives, but also regularly. The amount of exposure one has to a foreign languages usually correlates to one’s level of comprehension, ability to understand the language when spoken quickly and one’s ability to imitate sounds.“
For Singapore, it’s different, indeed, Singapore was a British colony and kept a strong English culture. Indeed, English is the second official language and Singapore is still part of the commonwealth which permit Singaporean to vote in British elections.
source: EF EPI
COUNTRIES THAT CAN DO BETTER
In the middle of the ranking, we find a mix of European, Spanish speaking and Asian countries mainly. Indeed, countries that have a national language speaking by a large community look to have less interest to learn English. For example, France and Spain are ranked 32 and 28 but when we know that there are about 400 million people speaking Spanish in the world and French by about 100 million, China is ranked 36th partly because Mandarin is speaking by more than 800 million people, which make of mandarin the language the most speaking in the world. The utility of learning English to communicate with the world is less important than countries like Netherlands. “In France we don’t want to learn foreign languages“ said Roger-François Gauthier, comparative education lecturer at Université Paris Descartes. He add “In France, we start learning English between 7 to 11 which is really late compare to there European countries“. Moreover, in France between middle school and high school student have an average of only 2 to 3 hours a week of English lessons. Finally, according to the European Commission in France and Spain medias and cinema are mainly traduced in the national language contrary to Northern European countries. However, the new French President declared recently that he wants French children to talk at least two international languages for 2024.
COUNTRIES THAT FAILED
The top 5 of the worst countries speaking English is Laos, Iraq, Libya, Cambodia, Algeria, and Cameroon. According to EF English Proficiency Index, there is a correlation between democratic health and learning of international languages. Indeed, Iraq and Libya, ranked 78 and 79 suffer from a war context that badly impacts on the education of children. However, we can see that the worst country Laos with a grade of 37,56/100 is doing efforts to improve this level especially because English is the language of trade in Asia. For Iraq, Syria, and Algeria, we can also explain this bad grades because the main languages of those countries is Arabic and its also becoming a world language useful for trade, speaking by 276 million people, which make of Arabic the 4th world language just after English, Spanish and Mandarin.
We can see through this map and index that the context of each country have a major impact on education and afterward on the learning of international languages as English. Moreover, we can also see that countries which benefit from a world language less interest in the learning of another one.