KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 — Malaysia has the highest English proficiency rate in Asia according to a recent index compiled by education company English First (EF), with Singapore and South Korea coming in second and third respectively.
The 2014 index surveyed a total of 750,000 adults, aged 18 and above, who took EF’s English tests in 2013, from a total of 63 countries with 14 of them from Asia.
According to the report of its findings, EF said Asian countries “have a wide range of proficiency levels, with dramatic progress alongside persistent stagnation.”
However, Malaysia and Singapore were the only two Asian countries in the survey judged to have “a high proficiency” in English.
The data for the index was gathered from two tests administered by EF, one of them an online test open to all internet users consisting of a 30-question adaptive test, and the other a 70-question non-adaptive placement test given to people seeking to enroll in the company’s English courses.
The index only included countries with a minimum of 400 test takers. Both tests include grammar, vocabulary, reading, and listening sections.
EF has however acknowledged that there are significant flaws in their methodology, and that the data samples they collect may not accurately reflect the average English proficiency of the countries in question.
“We recognise that the test-taking population represented in this index is self-selected and not guaranteed to be representative of the country as a whole,” it said on its website.
“Only those people either wanting to learn English or curious about their English skills will participate in one of these tests.”
Furthermore, because the tests are conducted online, only those with internet access and familiarity with online applications were included in the index.
“This sampling bias would tend to pull scores upward by excluding poorer, less educated, and less privileged people,” EF said.
Founded in 1965 with its headquarters in Switzerland, EF is a private company that offers a range of educational programs including language training, educational travel, academic degrees, and cultural exchanges.