English holds the distinction of being the language with the most number of speakers. To date, there are more than 1.2 billion speakers who can understand the language. It may be the third most-spoken native dialect, but it is the most widely learned second vernacular in the world.
As a global language, English is studied in most countries. In fact, this lingua franca or bridge language is spoken well in the following Asian nations.
List of English Speaking Countries in Asia
At the top of the list is Singapore, the most developed sovereign nation in Asia. It has a high English Proficiency Index (EPI) at 66.82, which means a large number of Singaporeans are competent in using the English language. By gender, this signifies that 67% of its male residents – and more than 66% of its female citizens – know how to speak in English.
Globally speaking, Singaporeans ranks 5th out of 100 countries when it comes to speaking the English language. This is reflected in the country’s International English Language Testing System (IELTS). It is earmarked as one of the highest at 7.41.
The Singaporeans’ expertise in the English dialect is widely attributed to its educational system, which makes use of English as the primary language of instruction.
In terms of speaking English, the Philippines takes the second spot out of 25 Asian countries. It has a high EPI of 60.14%. As for gender, more Filipino men speak English at 60.14%, while the ladies are not far behind at 59.96%.
On a global scale, it is ranked 20th out of 100 countries in terms of English Proficiency. It was previously number 14 out of 88 countries.
Currently, the Philippines scores B1 – where there is a threshold or intermediate knowledge of the English language – as per the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). As for the IELTS, the Philippines is ranked seventh in terms of the highest average scores.
Apart from Filipino, the English language is also considered a primary dialect in this English Speaking Country in Asia. Like Singapore, educational instructions are mostly delivered in the English language as well.
Although English is seldomly used in Malaysian schools, the country fares better compared to other Asian countries. Currently, it has a high EPI of 58.55%. This places Malaysia at the third best English Speaking Countries in Asia – and the 26th out of 100 nations. The country’s rank has downgraded a bit, as it was the 22nd most English-proficient country in 2018.
There is quite a gap when it comes to gender, as more Malaysian males speak the vernacular at 60.2%. The females, on the other hand, clock in at 57.87%.
Like the Philippines, Malaysia is scored at B1 by the CEFR. It fares better in the IELTS though, as it is ranked third in terms of average scores.
4. Hong Kong
Hong Kong is an economic superpower in Asia – and the entire world. As a former British colony, it comes as no surprise that Hong Kong registers a moderate EPI score of 55.63%. Currently, it ranks 33 out of 100 countries – a few notches down from its number 30 rank in 2018.
The Hong Kong educational system is largely inspired by that of the United Kingdom. While Cantonese is used as the medium of instruction, students receive written education in English as well.
Compared to other Asian countries, Hong Kongese women are more proficient with English at 55.91%. The males are not far behind though at 55.20%.
Out of its 1.3 billion residents, it is estimated that more than half can speak the English language. As a former British colony, Indians are well-versed in using English extensively. English has also become the country’s subsidiary official language, which means it is used in business, administration, and higher education.
Such proficiency is demonstrated in its EPI score of 55.49%, which signifies moderate knowledge of the English language. Currently, India ranks 5th in Asia – and 34th out of 100 nations – when it comes to English use.
Like Hong Kong, Indian women fare better when it comes to the English vernacular. They scored 56.93%, compared to the men’s 55.10%.
6. South Korea
South Korea is a highly-developed country, with the United Nations naming it as the second-best country to raise a child. The South Koreans regard education as a top priority, which explains why it is the sixth-most English proficient country in Asia. As per the world rankings, it takes the 37th spot out of 100 countries.
South Korea has an EPI score of 55.04, which denotes moderate competency in the English language. More females speak English at 55.91%, compared to men at 54.07%.
Most English speakers are found in the capital of Seoul, followed by the regions of Gyeongsangnam-do and Chungcheongnam-do.
As one of Asia’s widely-developed countries, Taiwan is ranked high in terms of human development and education. This is because the Taiwanese follow a Confucian paradigm wherein education is considered a top priority.
The East Asian state performs well in most educational areas, which explains its EPI score of 54.18%, making it 7th best English speaking country in Asia. This is a considerable upgrade, as Taiwan registered a low proficiency index in 2018.
The highest number of English speakers can be found in the capital of Taipei. Men and women are at almost equal footing when it comes to proficiency, scoring 54.29% and 54.11% respectively.
China – the home of 1.42 billion souls – ranks eighth in Asia in terms of English competency. While Mandarin remains to be the most widely-spoken language in the country, improvements in the Chinese educational system has given the students more opportunities to learn the English language.
China’s EPI score is 53.44%, ranking it 40th out of 100 countries. The Chinese’s ability to speak English has vastly improved throughout the years, as the country was marked with a low proficiency rate from 2011 to 2018.
Chinese men and women speak English at the almost-similar rates of 53.41% and 53.47% respectively.
Asia, a hodgepodge of nations, plays home to some of the most English-proficient countries in the world. As education and technology continue to improve, the rest of Asia is expected to further improve their English competencies as well.
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