Hispanic Countries among Worst in World at English, Reveals World's Biggest Proficiency Index by EF

Oct 24, 2012, 09:00 ET from EF Education First

MEXICO CITY, Oct 24. 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

Hispanic countries among worst in world at English

  • Hispanic immigrants to US held back by low proficiency of the language

The Hispanic countries are among the worst in the world at English and Colombia the worst large country in the Hispanic region, the world's biggest survey of English language proficiency reveals today.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121024/HK90314-INFO )

Mexico represents a special case as it has dropped 20 places within the index as well as Guatemala and they are only surpassed by Saudi Arabia which dropped 26 places. Mexico dropped from place 18th to 38th in just one year, indicating that other countries are taking more effective measures to promote the teaching of the English language.

A special report on Mexico shows how the borders with the United States as well as the large capital cities like Mexico and Monterrey, recognize the value and benefits of investing in learning the language and showed the highest level of English within the country. On the contrary, places such as Oaxaca, showed lower competitiveness, as English represents a third language for many of the indigenous people who barely speak any dialect and just learn Spanish.

Research published today by EF Education First suggests, moreover, that Hispanic immigrants are being hampered from making a success of life in the US by poor English skills.

"The EF EPI should serve as a warning to the Hispanic world that it must improve its poor English to keep up with the competition," says Francisco Elizondo, Hispanics Director at Englishtown. "Latin Americans have turned their region into one of the great economic success stories of the past decade. Now it's time for them to take the next step up by improving their English."

New research released by EF today suggests that countries with low proficiency in English struggle to break into the ranks of the world's most successful exporting nations.

There is, however, great variety within the Hispanic region. People in Argentina, the highest-placed Hispanic country at 20th in the global rankings, speak better English than the French or Japanese. We also have Brazil's case which dropped 15 places and is now in 46th, well below Mexico which ranked 38th despite being one of the strongest American economies. 

The lowest-ranked Hispanic country, Panama, is 51st - one place below Colombia. However, Colombia may catch up to the level of other Hispanic states if its economy continues to grow rapidly.

Francisco Elizondo says: "The biggest single reason for the poor performance of Hispanic countries at English is the low quality of public schools." Every Hispanic country in the prestigious Pisa survey of 15-year-olds' reading ability, published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, scores well below the average.

The weak English of Hispanics is reflected in the low score of US immigrants - well below the English of immigrants to Australia, Canada or the United Kingdom, in a special study of migrants to English-speaking countries.

Michael Lu, head of global communications at EF, says, "The poor US performance reflects the fact that a high proportion of its immigrants - and the bulk of the immigrants tested for this study - come from the Hispanic world." He responded to the figures by calling for better policy, saying: "Recognition amongst politicians of the challenges facing adult English learners in their own countries could lead to more appropriate training schemes."

Sweden comes top in the EF EPI.

"The EF EPI shows countries' ability at a language which is key to international commerce and research," says Lu. "The index should be a timely wake-up call to countries falling behind their neighbors - because today's EF EPI report shows that poor English is linked with less trade, less innovation and lower income."

About the EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI)

The EF EPI is a study of English proficiency among 1.7 million adults in 54 countries.  The first EF EPI was published in 2011. The EF EPI evaluates test takers in grammar, vocabulary, reading, and listening comprehension.  The full report, including country fact sheets, can be found at www.ef.com/epi

About EF Education First (EF)

EF was established in 1965 with the mission to break down the barriers of language, culture and geography. With 400 schools and offices in 55 countries, EF specializes in language learning, educational travel, academic degrees, and cultural exchange programs.

Press contact:
Claudia Avalos O.
Tel: +52 (81) 19-36-0021
Email: Claudia.Avalos@englishtown.com



SOURCE EF Education First