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Thailand falls further behind in English language skills

Nov 09. 2018
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By The Nation

EF Education First has released its annual global ranking of English proficiency, placing Thailand in 64th position globally, a drop from last year’s 53rd place, and 16th out of 21 in Asia.

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.

EF is an international education company that specialises in language training, educational travel, academic degree programs, and cultural exchange. The rankings draw on data from 1.3 million non-native English speakers in 88 countries and regions

“Thailand dropped 11 slots in one year in our global ranking of English proficiency,” said Dr Minh N Tran, EF’s senior director of research. 

“Our EF EPI research shows that countries and individuals that invest in English education and that recognise the importance of the language as a lever for competitiveness improve their proficiency year after year. Published by EF, this ranking has become the de facto reference point for governments, companies, and educators when they discuss English skills,” she added.

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.

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 (3rd rank for Singapore) and lowest proficiency countries (86th rank for Uzbekistan).

Africa shows stronger gains in English proficiency than any other region, with Algeria, Egypt, and South Africa improving by two or more points.

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 enrol more girls in preschool and report a greater proportion of women with bank accounts.

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