EF English Proficiency Index

The EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI) is a report which attempts to rank countries by the average level of English language skills amongst adults. It is the product of EF Education First, a global language training company, and draws its conclusions from data collected via English tests available for free over the internet. The report was published for the first time in March, 2011 based on the results of over 2 million test takers.[1] The most recent, sixth edition was released in November, 2016.[2]


The EF EPI sixth edition was calculated using test data from 950,000 test takers in 2015. 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 total.[3]


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.[3]

Primary conclusions

  1. Exports per capita, Gross National Income per capita and Ease of doing business all correlate positively with English proficiency.
  2. English proficiency levels are evolving at different rates in different countries around the world, including a few countries with declining English skills.
  3. Europe as a whole speaks the best English, the Middle East the worst.
  4. The size of the investment in English training does not necessarily correspond to the amount of progress made over time.

2016 Rankings

Map of the results of the 2016 EF English Proficiency Index.
Map of the results of the 2015 EF English Proficiency Index.
Country 2016 Rank 2016 Score 2016 Band
 Netherlands 1 72.16 Very High Proficiency
 Denmark 2 71.15 Very High Proficiency
 Sweden 3 70.81 Very High Proficiency
 Norway 4 68.54 Very High Proficiency
 Finland 5 66.61 Very High Proficiency
 Singapore 6 63.52 Very High Proficiency
 Luxembourg 7 63.20 Very High Proficiency
 Austria 8 62.13 High Proficiency
 Germany 9 61.58 High Proficiency
 Poland 10 61.49 High Proficiency
 Belgium 11 60.90 High Proficiency
 Malaysia 12 60.70 High Proficiency
 Philippines 13 60.33 High Proficiency
  Switzerland 14 60.17 High Proficiency
 Portugal 15 59.68 High Proficiency
 Czech Republic 16 59.09 High Proficiency
 Serbia 17 59.07 High Proficiency
 Hungary 18 58.72 High Proficiency
 Argentina 19 58.40 High Proficiency
 Romania 20 58.14 High Proficiency
 Slovakia 21 57.34 Moderate Proficiency
 India 22 57.30 Moderate Proficiency
 Dominican Republic 23 57.24 Moderate Proficiency
 Bulgaria 24 56.79 Moderate Proficiency
 Spain 25 56.66 Moderate Proficiency
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 26 56.17 Moderate Proficiency
 South Korea 27 54.87 Moderate Proficiency
 Italy 28 54.63 Moderate Proficiency
 France 29 54.33 Moderate Proficiency
 Hong Kong 30 54.29 Moderate Proficiency
 Vietnam 31 54.06 Moderate Proficiency
 Indonesia 32 52.94 Moderate Proficiency
 Taiwan 33 52.82 Moderate Proficiency
 Russia 34 52.32 Low Proficiency
 Japan 35 51.69 Low Proficiency
 Uruguay 36 51.63 Low Proficiency
 Macau 37 51.36 Low Proficiency
 Costa Rica 38 51.35 Low Proficiency
 China 39 50.94 Low Proficiency
 Brazil 40 50.66 Low Proficiency
 Ukraine 41 50.62 Low Proficiency
 Chile 42 50.10 Low Proficiency
 Mexico 43 49.88 Low Proficiency
 Morocco 44 49.86 Low Proficiency
 Peru 45 49.83 Low Proficiency
 United Arab Emirates 46 49.81 Low Proficiency
 Ecuador 47 49.13 Low Proficiency
 Pakistan 48 48.78 Low Proficiency
 Colombia 49 48.41 Very Low Proficiency
 Panama 50 48.08 Very Low Proficiency
 Turkey 51 47.89 Very Low Proficiency
 Tunisia 52 47.70 Very Low Proficiency
 Guatemala 53 47.64 Very Low Proficiency
 Kazakhstan 54 47.42 Very Low Proficiency
 Egypt 55 47.32 Very Low Proficiency
 Thailand 56 47.21 Very Low Proficiency
 Azerbaijan 57 46.90 Very Low Proficiency
 Sri Lanka 58 46.58 Very Low Proficiency
 Qatar 59 46.57 Very Low Proficiency
 Venezuela 60 46.53 Very Low Proficiency
 Iran 61 46.38 Very Low Proficiency
 Jordan 62 45.85 Very Low Proficiency
 El Salvador 63 43.83 Very Low Proficiency
 Oman 64 43.44 Very Low Proficiency
 Kuwait 65 42.98 Very Low Proficiency
 Mongolia 66 42.77 Very Low Proficiency
 Algeria 67 41.60 Very Low Proficiency
 Saudi Arabia 68 40.91 Very Low Proficiency
 Cambodia 69 39.48 Very Low Proficiency
 Laos 71 38.45 Very Low Proficiency
 Libya 71 37.82 Very Low Proficiency
 Iraq 72 37.65 Very Low Proficiency


The EF English Proficiency Index has been criticized for its lack of representative sampling in each country.[4] The report states that participants in the tests are self-selected and must have access to the internet. This pushes the index towards the realm of an online survey rather than a statistically valid evaluation.

However, there are few alternative comparisons available of countries by their English skills, and those that exist are smaller in scale, as is the case with a reported British Council study,[1] or they have other sampling flaws, as is the case with rankings of countries by standardized English test scores such as the TOEFL.[5] 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.[6]


  1. 1 2 English: Who speaks English?. The Economist. Retrieved on 2011-05-29.
  2. Singapore's English skills continue to improve, as Shanghai beats Hong Kong. CNBC. Retrieved on 2016-11-16
  3. 1 2 EF English Proficiency Index – Comparing English skills between countries – EF EPI. Ef.com. Retrieved on 2016-11-16.
  4. The English Blog: EF English Proficiency Ranking. Jeffreyhill.typepad.com (2011-03-30). Retrieved on 2011-05-29.
  5. TOEFL: Test and Score Data Summaries. Ets.org. Retrieved on 2011-05-29.
  6. SurveyLang project. European Commission. Retrieved on 2012-09-20.
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