Low English Levels Can Hurt Countries' Progress

Published: October 28, 2012

Poor English skills hinder nations’ progress, study says

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Countries with poor English-language skills also have lower levels of trade, innovation and income, according to a report released last week.

The report ranks 54 countries where English is not a native language, with the top five being Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland and Norway. The bottom five were Colombia, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Libya.

The results were based on a survey of 1.7 million adults on five continents and released by Education First, an international education company based in Switzerland.

“English is key to innovation and competitiveness,” Michael Lu, senior vice president of Education First, said in the report.

Italy, Spain and Portugal were being held back by the fact that they had some of the poorer English skills in Europe, the report said. In the BRIC grouping, India was ranked the highest, at 14th. It was followed by Russia at 29th, China at 36th and Brazil at 46th.

Women generally scored better than men, and the gender gap was widest in the Middle East and North Africa, according to the report. — CHARLES ANDERSON

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