EF’s survey of 1.3 million adults highlights global trends in English proficiency
EF Education First released its annual global ranking of English proficiency today, drawing on data from 1.3 million non-native English speakers in 88 countries and regions. For the fourth time in eight years, Sweden tops the EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI ), bumping last year’s top-scorer, the Netherlands, to second place.
“Our EF EPI research shows that countries and individuals continue to invest in English education, recognizing the importance of the language as a lever for
competitiveness,” said Dr. Minh N. Tran, EF’s Senior Director of Research. “Since EF started publishing this ranking, it has become the de facto reference point for governments, companies, and educators when they discuss English skills.”
Key findings of this year’s EF EPI include:
– Europe remains the global leader in English proficiency. Eight of the top 10 spots in the ranking are held by European countries.
– Africa shows stronger gains in English proficiency than any other region, with Algeria, Egypt, and South Africa improving by two or more points.
– For the first time ever, an Asian nation enters the top three slots, with Singapore ranking third. However, Asia continues to possess a large regional divide between the highest and lowest proficiency countries.
– Latin America is the only region to show a slight overall decline in English proficiency. Scores in the region remain more uniform than anywhere else, with only a small gap between the lowest and highest proficiency countries.
– Women continue to outpace men in English skills worldwide, and this gender gap has been widening since 2016.
– New correlations indicate that societies with higher English proficiency are more egalitarian. Among other metrics, these countries enroll more girls in preschool and report a greater proportion of women with bank accounts.
The EF EPI is based on test scores from the EF Standard English Test (EF SET), the world’s first free standardized English test. Thousands of schools, companies, and governments worldwide use the EF SET for large-scale testing.
The EF EPI 2018 report and regional fact sheets are available for