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Philippines drops to 27th spot in English proficiency rankings

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Nov 20, 2020 2:41 am

In the 10th edition of the EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI), the Philippines ranked No. 27 out of 100 countries worldwide. Despite sliding seven notches from last year’s No. 20 spot, the country continues to have “high proficiency” in the English language.

EF EPI is an annual report that ranks countries around the world according to their adult English proficiency. For this edition of the report, results were analyzed from the 2.2 million adults who participated in the free online EF Standard English Test in 2019, administered by Switzerland-based EF Education First Ltd.

The Philippines is No. 27 this year among 100 countries who participated in the EF Standard English Test. Photo from EF EPI

With this year’s 800-point system scale, the Philippines garnered 562 points.

Among its Asian neighbors, the Philippines ranked second, trailing behind Singapore, which is at No. 10 worldwide. The city-state has fallen five notches from last year’s No. 5 ranking worldwide. This decline was seen throughout the region in the report’s findings that almost half of the countries surveyed in Asia registered a drop in score compared to last year.

Also in the report is a separate list of the EF EPI scores among 90 cities, where Manila ranked No. 21 and Davao City at No. 24.

The Philippines may have consistently garnered a “high proficiency” band in previous reports, its proficiency trend continued to slip over the years—No. 13 in 2016, No. 15 in 2017, No. 14 in 2018, No. 20 in 2019 and No. 27 in 2020.

The Philippines is consistently slipping down the EF EPI proficiency trend. Photo from EF EPI

The EF EPI placed the surveyed countries and territories into five proficiency bands—from “Very High Proficiency” to “Very Low Proficiency.”

The Philippines’ “High Proficiency” band is considered sufficient for tasks, which include making a presentation at work, understanding TV shows, and reading a newspaper.

Out of 100 countries and regions, the Netherlands has taken the No. 1 spot for two years in a row with the score of 652. The Netherlands has been in the report’s Top 3 since its inception in 2011. Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Norway are in this year’s Top 5 respectively.

Singapore lead Asia's EF EPI scores, trailing behind are Philippines, Malaysia and South Korea. Photo from EF EPI

According to the summary of the report, more than a billion people speak English as a first or second language, and hundreds of millions more as a third or fourth.

The Philippines is known as one of the largest English-speaking countries worldwide, which makes the country one of the most popular outsourcing destinations, even gaining the title BPO Capital of the World since 2010.

Though the English language is widely spoken in the country, the Philippines ranked the lowest in reading comprehension out of 79 participating countries in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), whose results were revealed in December 2019.

PISA, a worldwide study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, is an international assessment that measures 15-year-old students' reading, mathematics, and science literacy every three years.

The scores of 15-year-old Filipino students who participated in the international assessment averaged 340 in reading, which is below the minimum proficiency level of at least 407. The students also scored 353 in mathematics and 357 in science, also below minimum proficiency level of 420 and 410 respectively.

In a STAR report, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that they were not expecting high results for the Philippines as the results of the National Achievement Test in 2019 showed low proficiency levels in Science, Math and English. DepEd said it will use the PISA results to improve the quality of education, including possible revisions in the K-12 curriculum.

Banner photo by Edd Gumban