Learning & Development Asia 2024
human resources online

5 Asian countries with the highest English proficiency

Singapore has come out tops in terms of English language proficiency among the 25 Asian nations in the ninth edition of Education First's English Proficiency Index (EPI) which anaylsed the English skills of non-native English speaking countries and regions globally.

Among the 25 Asian nations, the five countries with the highest English proficiency were.

#1 Singapore

With an EPI score of 66.82, Singapore also ranked fifth among non-native English speaking countries globally - behind Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. The country was also the only Asian nation deemed to have very high proficiency in English.

Overall, the island nation slid back two places in the ranking compared with 2018 where it was ranked third.

By gender, Singaporean men have a slight edge over their female counterparts. The men received an EPI score of 67.06, while the women scored 66.58.

#2 Philippines

Coming in second in Asia is the Philippines, with an EPI of 60.14 (high proficiency).

Similar to Singapore, men recorded a slightly higher EPI score than their female counterparts (60.41 vs 59.96).

Overall, the Philippines was ranked 20th globally, slipped by six places compared with 2018 where it was ranked 14th.

#3 Malaysia

With an EPI of 58.55 (high proficiency), Malaysia came in third among the Asian nations in the report.

By gender, Malaysian men have a notably higher level of English proficiency than Malaysian women (60.20 vs 57.87).

On a whole, the country was ranked 22nd globally, falling by four places from 2018, where it was ranked 22nd.

#4 Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong, China was ranked fourth, with an EPI of 55.63 (moderate proficiency).

By gender women in Hong Kong were found to have a higher level of English proficiency than their male counterparts (55.91 vs 55.20).

By region, the Kowloon district recorded the highest EPI score of 55.72, followed by Hong Kong Island (56.65) and New Territories (55.14).

Overall, Hong Kong ranked 33rd globally, dropping by three places from 2018 where it was ranked 30th.

#5 India

With an EPI score of 55.49 (moderate proficiency), India was ranked fifth in Asia.

By gender, Indian women were found to have a distinct edge over their male counterparts (56.93 vs 55.10) when it comes to English proficiency.

Overall, India ranked 34th globally, dropping six places from 2018 where it was ranked 28th.

Rounding up the top 10 were:

  • South Korea (55.04)
  • Taiwan, China (54.18)
  • China (53.44)
  • Macau, China (53.34)
  • Vietnam (51.57)
In other parts of Asia, Indonesia came in 13th in Asia and 61st globally, with an EPI of 50.06 (low proficiency); while Thailand came in 17th in Asia and 74th globally, with an EPI score of 47.61 (low proficiency).

The report also uncovered differences in English proficiency at work - according to industry, job function, and seniority.

The industries with the highest English proficiency were pharmaceuticals, banking & finance, and information technology.

By job function, it comes as no surprise that the legal function tops the list, followed by finance, and R&D. The human resources function came in eighth.

By seniority, managers in Asia were found to be more proficient as compared to the executives and the entry-level staff.

Photo / iStockInfographics/ Education First

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

Related topics

Free newsletter

Get the daily lowdown on Asia's top Human Resources stories.

We break down the big and messy topics of the day so you're updated on the most important developments in Asia's Human Resources development – for free.

subscribe now open in new window