EF English Proficiency Index

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The EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI) attempts to rank countries by the average level of English language skills amongst those adults who took the EF test.[1] It is the product of EF Education First, an international education company, and draws its conclusions from data collected via English tests available for free over the internet.[2] [3]The index is an online survey first published in 2011[4] based on test data from 1.7 million test takers. [5]The most recent, seventh edition was released in November 2017.[6]


The EF EPI seventh edition was calculated using test data from 1 million test takers in 2016. The test takers were self-selected and no demographic information was collected on them. The tests are used by the company for marketing and placement purposes. 69 countries and 3 territories appear in the sixth edition of the index. In order to be included, a country was required to have at least 400 test takers.[7]


The report is composed of a country ranking table, several pages of analysis with graphs correlating other economic and social factors with English proficiency, and analysis of each region or continent. The 2016 report and accompanying country fact sheets include English proficiency levels by gender, age group, and region, within countries, and some English proficiency scores by city. The website displays portions of the report and has analysis of English skills in many countries and territories.[7]

Primary conclusions[edit]

  1. Exports per capita, Gross National Income per capita and innovation all correlate positively with English proficiency. [8]
  2. English proficiency levels are evolving at different rates in different countries around the world, including a few countries with declining English skills. [9]
  3. Europe as a whole speaks the best English, the Middle East the worst.[10]
  4. Women speak English better than men. [11]

2017 rankings[edit]

Below are the latest country scores, proficiency bands, and rankings as published in 2017 (data from 2016).[7]

Score calculation[edit]

On the web page of the company EF, the score calculation is explained: "In order to calculate a country’s EF EPI score, each test score was normalized to obtain the percentage of correct answers for that test. All the scores for a country were then averaged across the three tests, giving equal weight to each test." [12] There is thus no differentiation of the three tests for the calculation of the score.

Ranking of countries[edit]

Country 2017 Rank 2017 Score 2017 Band
 Netherlands 1 71.45 Very High Proficiency
 Sweden 2 70.40 Very High Proficiency
 Denmark 3 69.93 Very High Proficiency
 Norway 4 67.77 Very High Proficiency
 Singapore 5 66.03 Very High Proficiency
 Finland 6 65.83 Very High Proficiency
 Luxembourg 7 64.57 Very High Proficiency
 South Africa 8 63.37 Very High Proficiency
 Germany 9 62.35 High Proficiency
 Austria 10 62.18 High Proficiency
 Poland 11 62.07 High Proficiency
 Belgium 12 61.58 High Proficiency
 Malaysia 13 61.07 High Proficiency
  Switzerland 14 60.95 High Proficiency
 Philippines 15 60.59 High Proficiency
 Serbia 16 59.37 High Proficiency
 Romania 17 59.13 High Proficiency
 Portugal 18 58.76 High Proficiency
 Hungary 19 58.61 High Proficiency
 Czech Republic 20 57.87 High Proficiency
 Slovakia 21 57.63 High Proficiency
 Bulgaria 22 57.34 Moderate Proficiency
 Greece 23 57.14 Moderate Proficiency
 Lithuania 24 57.08 Moderate Proficiency
 Argentina 25 56.51 Moderate Proficiency
 Dominican Republic 26 56.31 Moderate Proficiency
 India 27 56.12 Moderate Proficiency
 Spain 28 56.06 Moderate Proficiency
 Hong Kong 29 55.81 Moderate Proficiency
 South Korea 30 55.32 Moderate Proficiency
 Nigeria 31 54.74 Moderate Proficiency
 France 32 54.39 Moderate Proficiency
 Italy 33 54.19 Moderate Proficiency
 Vietnam 34 53.43 Moderate Proficiency
 Costa Rica 35 53.13 Moderate Proficiency
 China 36 52.45 Low Proficiency
 Japan 37 52.34 Low Proficiency
 Russia 38 52.19 Low Proficiency
 Indonesia 39 52.15 Low Proficiency
 Taiwan 40 52.04 Low Proficiency
 Brazil 41 51.92 Low Proficiency
 Macau 42 51.87 Low Proficiency
 Uruguay 43 51.73 Low Proficiency
 Mexico 44 51.57 Low Proficiency
 Chile 45 51.50 Low Proficiency
 Bangladesh 46 50.96 Low Proficiency
 Ukraine 47 50.91 Low Proficiency
 Cuba 48 50.83 Low Proficiency
 Panama 49 50.68 Low Proficiency
 Peru 50 50.50 Low Proficiency
 Colombia 51 49.97 Low Proficiency
 Pakistan 52 49.88 Low Proficiency
 Thailand 53 49.78 Low Proficiency
 Guatemala 54 49.52 Low Proficiency
 Ecuador 55 49.42 Low Proficiency
 Tunisia 56 49.01 Low Proficiency
 United Arab Emirates 57 48.88 Low Proficiency
 Syria 58 48.49 Very Low Proficiency
 Qatar 59 48.19 Very Low Proficiency
 Morocco 60 47.91 Very Low Proficiency
 Sri Lanka 61 47.84 Very Low Proficiency
 Turkey 62 47.79 Very Low Proficiency
 Jordan 63 47.40 Very Low Proficiency
 Azerbaijan 64 46.97 Very Low Proficiency
 Iran 65 46.60 Very Low Proficiency
 Egypt 66 46.51 Very Low Proficiency
 Kazakhstan 67 45.95 Very Low Proficiency
 Venezuela 68 45.71 Very Low Proficiency
 El Salvador 69 45.70 Very Low Proficiency
 Oman 70 44.48 Very Low Proficiency
 Mongolia 71 44.21 Very Low Proficiency
 Saudi Arabia 72 43.98 Very Low Proficiency
 Angola 73 43.49 Very Low Proficiency
 Kuwait 74 43.14 Very Low Proficiency
 Cameroon 75 42.45 Very Low Proficiency
 Algeria 76 42.11 Very Low Proficiency
 Cambodia 77 40.86 Very Low Proficiency
 Libya 78 38.61 Very Low Proficiency
 Iraq 79 38.12 Very Low Proficiency
 Laos 80 37.56 Very Low Proficiency


The EF English Proficiency Index has been criticized for its lack of representative sampling in each country.[13] The report states that participants in the tests are self-selected and must have access to the internet. It is an online survey rather than a statistically valid sampling of the population.

However, there are few alternative comparisons available of countries by their English skills.[14] The European Commission performed a language survey, SurveyLang, which tests a representative sample of 15-year-old European students on their foreign language skills. The first report and data sets were released for 13 European countries in June 2012.[15]


  1. ^ English: Who speaks English?. The Economist. Retrieved on 2011-05-29.
  2. ^ Study Offers Snapshot of Global English-Language-Learner Trends. Education Week. Retrieved on 2017-01-17.
  3. ^ The EF SET powers the EF EPI. EF SET. Retrieved on 2017-10-05.
  4. ^ The EF EPI. ef.com. Retrieved on 2017-10-05.
  5. ^ Low English Levels Can Hurt Countries' Progress. New York Times. Retrieved on 2017-01-17.
  6. ^ Singapore's English skills continue to improve, as Shanghai beats Hong Kong. CNBC. Retrieved on 2016-11-16
  7. ^ a b c EF English Proficiency Index – Comparing English skills between countries – EF EPI. Ef.com. Retrieved on 2016-11-16.
  8. ^ Minh Tran: Countries with High English Proficiency Are More Innovative. Harvard Business Review. "Minh Tran is Director of Research and Partnerships for EF Education First and a member of the team that launched the EF Standard English Test." Retrieved on 2017-01-17.
  9. ^ How Well Does Your Country Speak English?. Voice of America. Retrieved on 2017-1-17.
  10. ^ Which countries are best at English as a second language?. World Economic Forum. Retrieved on 2017-1-17.
  11. ^ Women are better than men at learning English. That’s not necessarily a good sign.. Washington Post. Retrieved on 2017-1-17.
  12. ^ See Score caluculation/calculation
  13. ^ The English Blog: EF English Proficiency Ranking. Jeffreyhill.typepad.com (2011-03-30). Retrieved on 2011-05-29.
  14. ^ The World is Getting Better at English but Some Countries are Learning Faster than Others. Quartz (2018-02-23). Retrieved 2018-02-26.
  15. ^ SurveyLang project. European Commission. Retrieved on 2012-09-20.

External links[edit]