"English proficiency is a key factor that determines where multinationals in high-growth, knowledge-based sectors choose to locate their regional hubs around the world," says Michael Lu, EF Senior Vice President. "The Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai place only 19th and 21st in the survey. The language skills gap could make it harder for them to compete with Tokyo and Singapore, the highest-placed cities in Asia, as international financial centers. However, as these cities prosper, their English levels may improve rapidly.
Turning to Europe, national data suggest that Paris is the most visited city in the world, but despite Parisians' opportunity to practice language skills with millions of English speakers, they still only rank 11th in the survey. Lu adds: "Tourist destinations can never rest on their laurels. Locations with better English proficiency are better placed to gain share in the $6 trillion tourism market, which accounts for about 9 percent of the global economy." Moscow, placed 4th in the index, and St Petersburg, at 7th, are revealed in surveys as among the fastest-growing tourist destinations in Europe. The top three cities in English ability are all German-speaking, with Frankfurt second and Munich third.
The research also shows that in most cases, people living in big cities are better at English than their compatriots, with the biggest gap lying between Moscow and Russia as a whole. This reflects the large economic rewards and opportunities available to English speakers in international urban centers.
The English proficiency country scores, which place Sweden at the top among 54 countries and territories, were published in a separate report by EF Education First in October. Research looking specifically at employees, published in November, found the Dutch workforce best at English and the Brazilians the worst. The results for cities, countries and employees are all based on the EF Education First English Proficiency Index (EF EPI), a survey of 1.7 million adults around the world.
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 and territories. The first EF EPI was published in 2011. The EF EPI evaluates test takers in grammar, vocabulary, reading, and listening comprehension. The EF EPI country, city, and companies reports can be found at www.ef.com/epi
About EF Education First
EF Education First (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.