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English Proficiency in Reading and Listening of Adults around the World


December 2023 | Article | Communication | EALTHY Blog | Language learning | Research summary | Teaching

The need to learn foreign languages has not changed over the past decade. The catastrophic scenarios that English will take over to the detriment of other languages has not happened. But English remains the lingua franca of a modern globalized world allowing us to cross borders in the fields of business, politics, education, research, healthcare, and culture. Current and future challenges should look for a balance between AI-generated language and feedback and the teacher´s personalized, student-centred approach and focus on providing high-quality teacher training at universities using communicative methods to teach English along with the use of modern technology and media should be focused on. Particular attention still needs to be paid to children and learners for whom English is the second or even a foreign language which is not spoken at home but only in school. The authorities in each sector and region of the world should aim to ensure equal access to the development of an individual´s English proficiency both for personal and professional purposes.

The Education First English Proficiency Index 2023” (EF EPI) report compared English language skills of adults in 113 countries, 1200 cities and 5 world regions according to their proficiency level in reading and listening competence. It covers the aspects of English proficiency in relation to economy (productivity and workforce), innovation (research and talent competitiveness), work (industry and job function), society (social mobility and gender equality), and the future (environment and freedom). The EF Standard English Test (EF SET) used is a free, adaptive, standardized English test of reading and listening skills.

The research summary in the Research section presents the key findings of this report. In the article in the Member section, you can read the extended version of the report summary. It includes more details about rationales and methodology, a list of TOP 3 countries in each category assessed, a list of ideas for teachers and schools on how they can improve the English proficiency of their learners, and a reference to the EF EPI reports from 2011-2022 and the reports which compared the EF Standard English Test (EF SET) with IELTS and TOEFL.