Malaysia has highest level of English proficiency in Asia, overtaking Singapore who fell behind to 12th position

06 November 2013| last updated at 05:00PM

Malaysia has highest level of English proficiency in Asia

By A. Azim Idris

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has the highest English language proficiency level in the entire Asian region, according to a latest research by Swiss-based international education company EF Education First (EF).

The nation also climbed two notches higher to 11th place from 13th position last year in the EF English Proficiency Index which saw over 60 countries being surveyed. The results revealed that Malaysia, which was placed in the ‘High Proficiency’ category, had overtaken Singapore who fell behind to 12th position in the world ranking. Malaysia scored 58.99 points in the survey while neighbouring Singapore received a 58.92 score.Sweden topped the list of the ‘Very High Proficiency’ category with Norway and Netherlands trailing in second and third place the country respectively.

Other countries listed as among the best were Estonia, Denmark, Austria and Finland.

EF, in a press release entitled ‘The World’s Top 60 Countries in English According to The EF English Proficiency Index’ posted on its website on Tuesday, said this year’s country rankings were based on tests taken by 750,000 adults from 60 countries in 2012.

The seven countries with the strongest English, the EF said, were all small European nations “whose size compels them to adopt an international outlook.”

The analysis of evolving English proficiency over a six-year period (2007 to 2012 inclusive) uses test data from nearly five million adults.

EF Academic Affairs and Research Network head Dr. Christopher McCormick said: “Comparison of countries with their neighbours, trading partners, and rivals provides a fascinating study in divergent national priorities and educational policies worldwide,”

Other key findings in the survey also concluded that some Asian countries, such as Indonesia and Vietnam, have transformed their English proficiency over the six-year period.

“China has also improved, although less dramatically. Japan and South Korea, despite enormous private investments, have declined slightly,” the statement said.

The EF also found that English language skills were improving in Brazil, Russia, India, and China.

“This year, India and Russia have moved ahead of China, and Brazil is closing in fast.

“While the rest of Europe is already proficient in English or steadily working towards that goal, France is on an entirely different trajectory.”

However, the EF found that the Middle East and North Africa were the weakest regions in English.

“These oil-rich nations have staked their futures on developing knowledge economies before their oil production peaks. An exception to the region’s lackluster performance is the United Arab Emirates, which has improved significantly.”

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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