Talk to Me – English Proficiency in Asia

The EF English Proficiency Index is rates the level of English proficiency by country, region, age and demographic. We’ve published other stories on which are thew world’s most popular languages and the value of having a second one.

This seventh edition of the EF EPI is based on test data from more than one million test takers who completed three different versions of the EF Standard English Test (EF SET). This makes the ranking an authoritative resource to understand who speaks English as a second or third or fourth language best and why.

Why does learning English matter?
English is a global language. It is the language of science, business, and diplomacy. The global adoption of English is not a testament to the cultural supremacy of any one country/region, but rather a reflection of the need for a shared language in our deeply interconnected world.

Asian countries do well on the ranking but lag behind their European counterparts. There’s a direct correlation between learning to speak English and a person’s career opportunities.


It’s no surprise that Singapore ranked best in Asia. It actually ranks fifth on the global scale. Malaysia and the Philippines help to fill out the top 20. This raring shows the disparity in English skills across the continent. In general former British colonies have better English skills such as India and wealthier nations do better, such as South Korea.

Other important findings show younger people tend to have better English skills than their parents and women tend in most countries to be better at English than their male counterparts.