Shanghai scores highest in China in English language proficiency

Shanghai topped other regions of China in English proficiency for the fifth time as a global English training company released its eighth English Proficiency Index report.

Shanghai topped other regions of China in English proficiency for the fifth consecutive year as EF Education First, a global English training company, recently released its eighth English Proficiency Index report.

The report, including a ranking of 88 non-native English speaking countries and regions, was based on results of a standardized online test of listening and reading skills taken by over 1.3 million people last year, a 30 percent increase from the previous year.

In China, Shanghai scored 57.91 in the test, compared to 56.76 in the previous edition of EF EPI report. It places the city in the band of high proficiency for the first time, equivalent to the English language competence to make a presentation at work, understand TV shows and read a newspaper.

It also enables Shanghai to beat out Hong Kong for the fifth time since the ranking began in 2011.

Melissa Lam, chief representative of EF, said Shanghai stood out as it had an increasing middle-class population, more families sending children abroad for study and growing expenditures on English training.

Worldwide, Sweden came on top with a score of 70.72, replacing the Netherlands that fell to the second place with 70.31 points.

Singapore, with 68.83 points, became the first Asian country listed among top three and entered the band of very high proficiency, equivalent to the competence to use nuanced and appropriate English in social situations, read advanced texts with ease and negotiate a contract with a native English speaker.

China reached its highest ever position at No.36 in the last report, but it dropped to 47th this time, with its score decreasing from 52.45 to 51.94.

This places China in the low-proficiency tier, representing the competence to navigate an English speaking country as tourists, engage in small talks with colleagues and understand simple emails from colleagues.

Lam said China has made great improvement in English proficiency since the ranking began in 2011 while its setback this year was a result of facts that more countries and more less developed areas in China were covered by the test.

She also pointed out that China was above the world average proficiency in industries including public sector, healthcare, mining and energy, as well as automotive.

She said Chinese people’s English skills had been developing along with the country’s opening-up policy in the past 40 years, which led to huge leap in exports and imports, as well as overseas investment, tourism and study.

While attracting investment and tourists, China is organizing more and more international competitions and conferences, which have also pushed China to develop its English proficiency, according to Lam.

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