A recent online survey claims that China has better English verbal skills than neighboring India, but just barely. EF Education ranked the world’s English proficiency through an online survey between 2007 and 2008. The highest-ranking nation in the survey was Norway, China ranked 29th, and India 30th, while Kazakhstan was last at number 44. The survey was admittedly not scientific (see for yourself), but it did reveal the level and breadth of interest in studying and improving English skills across broad swathes of the globe.
In the case of India, the ranking came as a bit of a surprise: English is a national language and widely used in government and media. India’s historic use of English, first as a byproduct of colonization by England, then as a neutral communication choice among rivaling local languages and dialects, has made it a first choice for outsourcing call centers and IT services.
However a 2009 British Council report revealed a dearth of English teachers and high quality learning institutions across India. According to the Indian National Knowledge Committee, less than 1% of Indians speak English as a second language (with a population of over 1 billion people, that’s still 10 million English speakers). However recent statistics vary widely with some outsourcing specialists claiming English proficiency of up to 19% or 90 million people.
In contrast, China has made learning English part of its economic strengthening strategy. In 2010, there were estimated to be over 100,000 native English-speaking teachers in China, workers in a market worth three billion dollars annually.
In your experience, which country has the greatest command of the English language? Please restrict your comments to language-related topics; any remarks lacking civility may result in your banishment from the Hot Word commenting community.