Japan Data

Japan’s English Proficiency Continues to Drop Among Non-English-Speaking Countries

Society Education

A survey found that Japan currently ranks eighty-seventh out of 113 non-English-speaking countries and regions for English language abilities. This is a fall of seven places from last year and relatively low among Asian countries.

A 2023 survey by the Swiss international education company EF Education First, which measures the English proficiency of people in 113 non-English speaking countries and regions, found that Japan ranked eighty-seventh overall and was fifteenth among the 23 Asian countries and regions. Japan is at the fourth level out of five set by the company, equating to “low proficiency” (64–90).

The survey gathered and analyzed data from free tests taken online by a total of 2.2 million people worldwide for EF’s English Proficiency Index. By region, 34% of test takers were from Europe, 23% each from Asia and Africa, 20% from Central and South America, and 13% from the Middle East. The median age was 26.

Countries that ranked alongside Japan included Malawi in eighty-sixth place, Afghanistan at eighty-eighth, and Mexico at eighty-ninth.

In the first survey conducted in 2011, Japan placed fourteenth; however, at that time only 40 countries provided testing data. As the number of countries gradually increases with each survey, Japan is continuing to fall in rank.

Japan’s EF English Proficiency Index Ranking

The country with the highest English proficiency was the Netherlands and the majority of countries classed as having “very high” (1–12) or “high” (13–30) proficiency were in Europe.

Singapore was the highest ranked Asian country in second place. The Philippines was twentieth, Malaysia twenty-fifth, and Hong Kong twenty-ninth. South Korea placed forty-ninth and China eighty-second. All these countries scored higher than Japan. EF noted that “adults’ English language skills in East Asia have continued to decline over the past four years” due to a drop in the skill levels in Japan and China.

2023 Ranking of English Proficiency in Major Countries

1 Netherlands
2 Singapore
3 Austria
4 Denmark
5 Norway
6 Sweden
7 Belgium
8 Portugal
9 South Africa
10 Germany
11 Croatia
12 Greece
13 Poland
14 Finland
15 Romania
20 Philippines
25 Malaysia
29 Hong Kong
49 South Korea
57 Nepal
58 Vietnam
60 Bangladesh
60 India
64 Pakistan
67 Sri Lanka
73 Mongolia
79 Indonesia
82 China
87 Japan
(Lower rankings omitted)

Created by Nippon.com based on data from the EF English Proficiency Index. The rankings for 16 and lower show only Asian countries.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

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