Emerging market giant China has pipped neighbouring rival India in English language proficiency skills, despite the South Asian nation’s strong anglophone tradition, according to a new study. Both countries were given a “low-proficiency” score, with China standing 29th, one place ahead of India in a list of 44 countries rated according to an English proficiency index.
The study was carried out by EF Education (EF), the world’s largest privately held education company that specialises in language training and other education areas. “Despite its British colonial legacy, extensive use of English for administrative purposes and vibrant English media, India is now no more proficient in English than rapidly improving China,” the study said. A large English-speaking population has been one of the key factors behind the boom in outsourcing to India which has seen Western companies set up IT back-up or call centres in cities such as Bangalore and Hyderabad.
But numerous experts have warned that India is losing this linguistic edge to its giant neighbour which is pouring far more resources into English-language teaching. The study used data from 2.4 million adults globally who took free online English tests between 2007 and 2008, and EF acknowledged that the results could not be “guaranteed” to be representative of any country as a whole. Only people wanting to learn English or curious about their English skills would have participated and the fact that the tests were online excluded those without Internet access.