EF Education First’s English Proficiency Index revealed on Wednesday that wide gaps exist in English skills across the world with women faring better at English than men.
The EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI), the world’s most in-depth ranking of English ability, said that Swedes are the best English speakers of all based on a survey of 1.7 million adults in 54 countries and territories in five continents.
“English is key to innovation and competitiveness,” says Michael Lu, Senior Vice President of EF Education First. “The EF ranking should be a wake-up call to countries falling behind their neighbors – because today’s report shows that poor English is linked with less trade, less innovation and lower income.”
The survey also disclosed the widening gap between men and women in the Middle East and North Africa, where female scores are considerably higher. This highlights the fact that English could prove key to greater opportunities for women in developing nations.
Other countries where men are far worse than women were Italy and China. South Korea, at 21st, and Japan, at 22nd, performed disappointingly bad for wealthy countries near the top of global rankings of academic achievement. It comes as a surprise because they are well behind several lower-income countries, including Hungary (8th) and Poland (10th).
Morocco fared the best among Arab countries ranking 35 out of 54 nations surveyed. Iran topped the Middle East region by notching 28th position while Qatar stood at 37. The UAE (49) was ranked among the bottom ten countries along with Kuwait (45) and Saudi Arabia (52). Libyans have the poorest of English language skills, the survey disclosed, as they ranked the lowest among 54 countries from around the world.
The survey also noted wide disparities between the BRIC countries, the developing nations competing to be future economic superpowers. Brazil is ranked only 46th, much lower than China at 36th, Russia at 29th or India – where English is an official language – at 14th.
Another report, which was carried out in Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morrocco, Tunisia and Yemen by global research organisation Euromonitor International and published in May this year, revealed a connection between improving English language learning and easing social unrest.