The English proficiency of people in Shanghai was, for the fifth straight year, higher than that of Hong Kong according to a report released on Tuesday by education company EF Education First.
The company looked at the English listening and reading abilities of 1.3 million adults whose mother tongue was not English. The test, conducted last year, involved 88 countries and regions.
Based on the candidates’ results, an English Proficiency Index (EPI) was created for each country and region. They were classified into five levels of English competence: Highest, High, Intermediate, Low, and Elementary.
Hong Kong came 30th with an EPI of 56.38, which was the Intermediate level. China and Taiwan, ranked 47th and 48th, respectively, were grouped in the Low level. The report suggested Hong Kong should make better use of technology and online learning tools so that people can use English more in their daily lives.
“The variety in English-speaking ability is quite wide in Hong Kong. There’s only a small number of people who can speak English fluently,” Law Hing-chung, the former head of research at the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, told media.
Since English was not used in most people’s lives in the city, they find it difficult to learn, Law added. He said that to improve English, students need to work harder. “Students have to take [English] seriously and use it more. For example, they should interact with people in English, make an effort to remember their mistakes and avoid them next time,” he said. “They should use online resources, as well.”
Eight of the top 10 spots in the ranking are held by European countries. Sweden came first with an EPI of 70.72, followed by the Netherlands (70.31), and Singapore (68.38). Singapore was the only Asian country that achieved the Highest level of English proficiency. Shanghai appeared in a separate analysis which only covered international cities. It scored 57.9 and became the first Chinese city to achieve the High level. Beijing, on the other hand, scored 54.80.