By THE NATION
Thailand ranks down at 56 out of 72 countries as Laos, Libya and Iraq occupy the bottom of the rankings.
The global survey of 950,000 adults across 72 countries and territories links English proficiency with income, innovation and quality of life.
“In a volatile global economy, English proficiency is one of the few skills with proven ability to generate opportunities and strengthen employability,” said Minh Tran, EF’s director of research.
“It takes a great deal of effort and investment to steer a country or company towards a future with an English-speaking workforce. The EF EPI addresses these challenges and prompts global discussions about the best practices of language education.”
For the first time, an Asian country, Singapore, is in the highest proficiency band. Malaysia and the Philippines are also in the top 15 countries worldwide.
English proficiency in Europe remains the strongest in the world by a wide margin, while countries in the Middle East and North Africa continue to occupy the lowest ranks.
Of all the regions surveyed, Latin America is the only region that experienced a decline in English proficiency in the past year.
Countries making the most progress in English proficiency include France, Qatar and Singapore. Countries with the steepest declines include Iraq, Japan and Peru.
Young adults aged 18-25 have the strongest English proficiency worldwide, although some countries have markedly different national trends.
Women have stronger English skills than men in almost all countries and age groups.
English proficiency remains a key indicator of economic competitiveness at both the individual and national levels.
Higher English proficiency correlates with higher incomes, better quality of life, greater connectivity and more dynamic business environments.