ENGLISH language proficiency has plunged in Hong Kong, leaving it behind Taiwan (台灣), Japan (日本), Shanghai (上海) and Indonesia (印尼).
The findings emerged in a poll by Education First (EF), an international language learning company, of 750,000 adults in 63 countries and territories where the native tongue is not English. Those who took the online test were volunteers.
Hong Kong ranked 31st, a sharp drop of 19 places since 2011, when it was ranked 12th. Of the 13 places polled in Asia (亞洲), Hong Kong ranks eighth. It scored 52.5 points, way behind Malaysia (馬來西亞, 59.73), Singapore (新加坡, 59.58), South Korea (南韓, 53.62), India (印度, 53.54), Japan (52.88), Indonesia (52.74) and Taiwan (52.56).
The survey found proficiency levels in Shanghai (53.75), Beijing (北京, 52.86) and Tianjin (天津, 52.73) were also better than Hong Kong, though overall the mainland ranked lower at 37. Denmark (丹麥 ), the Netherlands (荷蘭) and Sweden (瑞典) are the top three for English proficiency.
Education First director of research and academic partnerships Minh N Tran said, “Places that don’t improve such as Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea haven’t significantly reformed their language education system. These three places also focus more on grammar and vocabulary for standardised testing and less on communication skills.” Tran said the drop was a “surprise”.