How the English language opens international doors

  • life in England
Published on 2017-02-17 at 13:58 by Maria Iotova
How many times has the language barrier stopped us from developing a relationship, expressing ourselves, or resolving a misunderstanding? The English language is our best choice when it comes to integration and cross-cultural communication in diverse settings. But it is also a passport to a global network of successful and helpful people and enticing professional opportunities abroad.

Every year, Education First (EF), the company that combines language training with cultural exchange, publishes the English Proficiency Index — a measurement for English proficiency around the world. takes a closer look at what the latest edition of the EPI can teach us about the impact of English on expatriation, international economy, and the connectivity degree of countries and regions.

Who speaks the best English?

EF has ranked 72 countries from Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa according to their level of English language proficiency. Nine out of the top ten countries that master English language are in Europe (Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Luxembourg, Austria, Germany, Poland) showing that the continent's education system totally promotes multilingualism and cultural exchange.

Asian countries, such as Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam where manufacturing, trade, and international business is crucial for their presence in the global picture, value English language, but more as an academic and employment tool. For example, in South Korea — a country that seriously invests in promoting English as a foreign language — everyday life activities and interactions in English are almost non-existent, and if any, are characterised by shyness and reservation.

Latin America has its own lingua franca, and of course, this is no other than Spanish. Thus it comes as no surprise that countries, such as Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Venezuela, and Chile are ranking low or very low on the EP Index. Argentina is the only Latin American country that thanks to the government's efforts does well in English language education.

The MENA region is the least proficient in English in the world, even though there's a high mobility of U.A.E. and Arab students to English-speaking universities in the UK and the USA. Indifference towards the English language is partly explained through the labour market system in the region — a vast sustainable public sector and a weak and inefficient private sector. The MENA region's big young population competes for a restricted number of positions, and soon motivation for higher education (or any other type of learning) is seen as an effort in vain.

How does the English language benefit you?

We cannot deny that the English language brings us closer to distant communities, and opens doors to education, work, and life opportunities that we wouldn't be able to reach otherwise. Here's how English can bring real changes to our personal and working lives.

Professional growth: A resume with one or more foreign languages is more likely to attract the attention of employers, and to straight away bring you further up on the candidates' list. Companies are becoming international, remote or office staff is sharing a common goal, but not necessarily a common language and culture, and trips abroad for business, as well as relocation to another country, are quite often essential.

International networking: English is the most popular language on the Internet and the number one language for electronic communication. If you are therefore keen on keeping up with the happenings in the international community, it's essential to speak and understand English. But we aren't only building virtual relationships — a look around you will tell that our everyday environments are multicultural and there are people out there who are waiting to establish long lasting relationships with us (as long as we find a common language to communicate in).

Study abroad: The UK, US, Canada, and Australia remain the top destinations for first class education, offering highly valued university degrees. If you want to be considered for such education opportunities and to enter the employment market with a world recognised certificate, then excelling in your English should become a priority.

Expat life: The English language has eased movement around the world offering a communication safety net. Whether you want to move abroad for work, education, or a personal project, English will allow you to build up your new life and integrate with the society that hosts you. From asking for directions to finding accommodation, and making friends, life abroad is much more comfortable when you are understood.