|The Government planned to spend US$450 million between 2008 and 2020 for language learning, with 85 per cent of it meant for teacher training and creating a conducive environment for students to learn English. — Photo vietpress
HCM CITY (VNS) — Viet Nam has made significant headway in English language education, but needs to move faster to achieve its targets, an expert from a US-based global education company that draws up the annual English Proficiency Index has said.
Education First's fourth EPI, which was released in HCM City last week, has Viet Nam in 33rd place out of 63 countries and territories with 51.57 points and in the low-proficiency group. Last year it ranked 28th out of 60.
Minh Tran of Education First said, "For the last seven years, since 2007 when the first EPI was released, Viet Nam has significantly improved its English skills with plus 7.25 points."
The Ministry of Education and Training's Project 2020 has a clear target of English skills for different levels, with university graduates expected to have B2 level, meaning independent users who can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics.
"It's ambitious for Viet Nam but it's good because managers have a clear goal," Tran said, adding however that more needs to be done if the target is to be achieved.
The Government planned to spend US$450 million between 2008 and 2020 for language learning, with 85 per cent of it meant for teacher training and creating a conducive environment for students to learn English.
The report also revealed that women - in Viet Nam and all over the world – speak English better than men. In Viet Nam, English skills are evenly distributed across various age groups without a significant skew in favour of any group.
Europe has the best English proficiency and continues to improve. Most European nations have high to very high proficiency with Denmark in top position with 69.30 points followed by the Netherlands and Sweden.
The Middle East and North Africa's low English levels have worsened since the last report.
The report finds a strong correlation between a country's English proficiency levels and many social and economic indicators like gross national income per capita.
Indices of quality of life, such as the Human Development Index and the Legatum Prosperity Index, also correlate positively with the EPI.
To improve English skills, the report advises that every country should align the English training system such that students leaving primary school are ready for secondary school. This alignment requires co-ordination across regions and government divisions.
It defines English proficiency as a core competency for all graduates.
A test data of 750,000 adults aged 18 and above, who took part in English tests in 2013, was used to create the country rankings. — VNS