Четверг 26 июля 2012

Опубликовано в печатной версии журнала. Вып. № 4.

Изучение английского языка сегодня — глобальный процесс. Спросим: каков результат этого процесса? Какова эффективность образовательных систем разных стран мира в организации обучения английскому как иностранному? Как измерить уровень владения английским языком в стране, в мире? English First English Proficiency Index позволяет определить средний по стране уровень владения английским языком среди её населения и сравнить полученный результат с показателями по другим странам. Наш журнал публикует выдержки из этого исследования, которые могут стать материалом для самообразования, содержанием обсуждения на уроке и в профессиональном сообществе.

Every year, more and more speakers of other languages are learning English. In countries around the world, public school systems are teaching English to children from primary or pre-school grades. Secondary schools are making English mandatory and are including English-language instruction in other academic subjects, most often math or science. A growing number of universities require English for admission or graduation and many now offer degree programs entirely in English to compete with the top-ranked institutions in the US and the UK.

Indeed, it has been proposed that within the next decade as many as two billion people will be learning English at any given time.

Standardizing measurement of adult English proficiency

The EF EPI uses English test scores from over two million adults around the world.
The EF English Proficiency Index (EPI) has been created as a standardized measurement of adult English proficiency, comparable between countries and over time. It is the first index of it’s kind to give countries a benchmark against which to measure the average English competency of the working population. The index uses a unique set of test data from over two million adults who took free online English tests over a period of three years. Because this group of test takers is so diverse and the entry barrier to taking an online English test is so low, the resulting scores are reasonably representative of the average English level of adults.
This is useful for citizens and governments alike when trying to evaluate the effectiveness of their English language policies as compared to their neighbors’.

Importance of English as a second language

Half of employees in international companies use English every day at work. Historically, speaking a second language was a marker of the social and economic elite. Globalization, urbanization, and the internet have dramatically changed the role of English in the past 20 years. Today, English proficiency can hardly be thought of as an economic advantage at all. It is certainly no longer a marker of the elite. Instead, it is increasingly a basic skill needed for the entire workforce.

Globalization is driving English learning

The expanding business process outsourcing sector relies on a large, skilled pool of English speakers. A 2007 survey of 10,000 non-native English-speaking employees in international corporations indicated that 49 % of employees were using English every day at work. English has become the de facto language of communication not only in international business but also in nearly every context where two people do not share a language. Governments around the world are increasingly recognizing that English proficiency is a necessary skill for all their citizens to participate in a global economy.

English spreads innovation

International communication amongst scientists and engineers is central to collaborative research and the sharing of technology between countries. Researchers in the United States publish by far the most scientific papers every year and the UK ranks third in publication numbers, after China. But countries with low English proficiency demonstrate unusually low levels of international collaboration on research.

English Study

Three-fourths of English speakers today are non-native. Nowadays English increasingly belongs to non-native speakers. Not surprisingly, English teaching theory has evolved rapidly in the last two decades according to the changing student population. Linguists and English teaching professionals more and more view successful communication as the end goal of English language instruction rather than an inflexible standard of correctness or native-like pronunciation. In a world in which more than three-fourths of all English speakers are non-native, ownership of the English language has clearly shifted from the historic centers in England and the United States. Most communication in English today is between non-native speakers, who usually accept non-standard grammar and pronunciation as long as communication remains clear. Anecdotally, many non-native English speakers report easier communication in English with other non-native speakers than with native speakers. Native speakers tend to be less tolerant of perceived errors, differences in pronunciation, and non-standard grammar. They are also less skilled in achieving successful communication because of these obstacles.

English learning is focusing on communication and application

Accordingly, studies suggest that English teaching in all its forms needs to shift towards teaching successful communication strategies. Students with this type of communication-based training will be far better suited to tomorrow’s workplace than those memorizing grammar rules.


The ability to communicate in English is rapidly becoming a requirement in a globalized economy. Governments and individuals recognize the trend and are driving the explosion of English language study seen over the past decade.
But despite this explosive growth, little data is available to evaluate how countries are doing in their pursuit of English proficiency. The EF EPI allows us to draw some conclusions about how to encourage English proficiency:

  • Send all children to school and give them an education on par with today’s global standards.
  • Teach English in public schools as a required language for all students, starting by age 12. This study should continue throughout secondary school and into university or professional school.
  • Cultivate a culture of multilingualism. The more families and governments do to foster the expectation of everyone speaking more than one language, the more children will expect it of themselves. This culture of multilingualism is difficult to define but easy to recognize. Visitors notice it immediately in Scandinavia and other high proficiency countries. One reliable indicator of a strong national culture of English proficiency is a head of state who makes public appearances abroad utilizing English, giving speeches and speaking to the media in this international language.
  • Teach both communication skills and strategies to negotiate meaning when communication breaks down. To gain maximum benefit from time spent studying English, both students and teachers should place the priority on communication, not grammatical correctness.




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    23 августа 2012 | 9:10
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