Date
21 September 2017
Hong Kong people in general did well in an international language test, outperforming their peers in countries such as Japan, South Korea, India and Indonesia, according to education authorities. Photo: HKEJ
Hong Kong people in general did well in an international language test, outperforming their peers in countries such as Japan, South Korea, India and Indonesia, according to education authorities. Photo: HKEJ

Hong Kong hits back over English proficiency ranking

Hong Kong is lashing back at a survey by a Switzerland-based online school which shows its standard of English is deteriorating.

The Education Bureau questioned the survey’s methodology, saying participants could have taken the online test repeatedly, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Friday.

Legislator Michael Tien said the survey mainly tested grammar, vocabulary and reading skills and did not include oral proficiency.

“The results cannot be trusted completely… language is more about communication,” he said.

The survey by EF Education First and EF Englishtown put Hong Kong 31st among 63 countries and regions where English is not a native language with an English proficiency index (EPI) of 52.5.

It was the seventh consecutive year Hong Kong had slipped in the ranking, although it remained in the “medium level” category.

China ranked 37th with an EPI of 50.15. However, Shanghai (53.75), Beijing (52.86) and Tianjin (52.73) surpassed Hong Kong for the first time in English proficiency. 

English standard among Hong Kong students has been high over the years, the Education Bureau said.

It said about half of day school students have received level 3 or above in tests for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education in the past three years.

University students scored 6.76 on average out of 9 in the International English Language Testing System in the 2012-2013 academic year.

And Hong Kong people as a whole got 6.4 points out of 9 on average last year, outperforming their peers in countries such as Japan, Korea, India and Indonesia, the bureau said. 

Also, it said there is no evidence that Cantonese, which is being encouraged in schools, is undermining Hong Kong’s English standard.   

Joe Chiu, EF Hong Kong and Macau head, said the survey attracted 10,000 respondents but did not give a breakdown.

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