Monday, November 25, 2013

EF English Proficiency Index not the way to measure a nation's English language proficiency

Index not a valid guide to English skills
Published November 16, South China Morning Post

I refer to the article by William Wang ("Hongkongers need to learn English from an early age", November 11). He makes the recommendation highlighted in your headline because of Hong Kong's ranking on the Education First (EF) English Proficiency Index.
Policy decisions about English education should not be based on this index. Countries with low scores should not despair and countries with high scores should not rejoice. I do not think the EF index is a valid measure of a country's English competence.
Half of a country's score on the index is based on a test given only to those enrolled in private English-language schools. It therefore only tests beginners and intermediates, and excludes those who speak English well, who have no need to take such a course. It also excludes those who cannot afford to take a private course.
The other half of a country's score is based on an internet exam that is freely open to anybody who wants to take it, which means it is limited to those with easy access to computers and the internet, and who are curious about their level of English.
This is not the way to measure a nation's English language proficiency.

Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus,
Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California, US

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