THE Philippines joins Malaysia in the top 15 countries worldwide with the best nonnative English speakers in the world, an international education company’s ranking revealed.
Of 72 countries, the Philippines was ranked 13th in the English Proficiency Index (EPI) released on November 15 by Education First (EF) Ltd. Among 19 countries in Asia, the Philippines was ranked third.
Malaysia, to note, was 12th in the sixth edition of the EF EPI ranking.
EF said its EPI ranking was based on test data from more than 950,000 adults who took the Lucerne, Switzerland-based firm’s online English tests in 2015.
Both the Philippines and Malaysia were tagged with a high English-proficiency level. The Philippines has an EF EPI score of 60.33, while Malaysia has an EF EPI score of 60.70.
Of the 19 countries in Asia, only Singapore was included in the top 10, at No. 6 worldwide. Singapore has a very high proficiency level, with an EF EPI score of 63.52.
“For the first time, an Asian country, Singapore, is in the highest proficiency band,” said EF, a privately held firm founded in 1965 by Bertil Hult and family.
Worldwide, adults in the Netherlands are the best non-native English speakers. Lao PDR, Libya and Iraq occupy the bottom of the rankings.
Singapore tops the countries in Asia, followed by Malaysia and the Philippines. India is the fourth in Asia, with an EF EPI score of 57.30, while Laos is in the bottom rung among 19 countries in the region, with an EF EPI score of 38.45.
The EF EPI average in the region—composed of nearly 4 billion people—is 55.94.
“In the first group of countries, English is both a class marker and an institutional standard,” EF said in its explanation of the regional result. “In the second group of countries, policies and attitudes toward English are in flux, as the language’s role evolves.”
The Philippines, which is in the first group, was added to the EF EPI index for the first time this year along with Laos and Macau. “With the addition of Laos, Macau and the Philippines to the index for the first time this year, a clearer picture is emerging of the wide-ranging role that English plays in Asia,” EF said.
The company concluded that “every country in Asia, no matter how skilled, would benefit economically from higher English proficiency across a broader swath of the work force.”
“In order to achieve that goal, however, these countries must learn from one another, measure their efforts and adjust their strategies according to what has been proven to work,” the firm added.