About one billion people around the world are learning English. They're not all learning English for fun. Many of them are learning it for work, research or for university but there are other important advantages to using English too.
English is the language of globalisation. It is the main language for international business, politics and diplomacy, and for technology and the Internet.
Research shows a correlation between how good a country is at English as a second language and how well its economy performs. If more people in a country speak English as a second language well, then statistics like gross national income (GNI) and gross domestic product (GDP) increase
Every year, the EF English Proficiency Index ranks countries by their English skills. It has found that in most of the 60 countries it surveys, better English skills are connected to a rise in per capita income.
Data from the United Nations and EF English Proficiency Index also shows a correlation between a country’s skill at English as a second language and its standards of living, education, literacy and life expectancy.
The World Economic Forum and Harvard Business Review compared the United Nation’s Human Development Report and EF English Proficiency Index.
They found the countries with the highest EF English Proficiency Index included Holland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Singapore, Finland, Austria, Luxembourg, Germany and Belgium – all countries with high human development and high standards of living that ranked very high on the United Nation's human developement index.
No country with moderate or high English skill levels has less than very high human development. On the other hand, most countries with low English skills also scored low on the United Nation’s measure of human development and had lower standards of living, education, literacy or life expectancy.
For individuals, the link is even clearer. People with very good English skills compared to their country’s average earn between 30 and 50% higher salaries.
The connection between English proficiency and wealth is a virtuous circle. When a country improves its English skills, salaries increase. That means governments get more money from taxes. Individuals have more money to invest in language training, so they can get better jobs and improve their standards of living.
Northern European countries are often near the top of the EF English Proficiency Index. Sweden has been at the top twice recently and Holland was top in 2019. These north European countries are small with economies focussed on exports and with very high standards of living. Leaders of these countries know that good English is important for their success.
Source: World Economic Forum; Harvard Business Review.
New business English words:
Globalisation (noun) = the process of businesses trading internationally, all around the world.
Correlation (noun) = connection between two or more things.
Gross national income (GNI) (noun) = a measure of how wealthy a country is using the money earned (earnings from domestic and foreign sources).
Gross domestic product (GDP) (noun) = a measure of how wealthy a country is using the total value of things (goods and services) produced by the country.
Rank (verb) = to arrange in order.
Survey (verb) = to examine and record data about a population, company, or country, etc.
Per capita income (adverb) = average income per person in a population.
Standard of living (noun) = the amount of wealth a person or country has.
Literacy (noun) = measure of how many people in a country can read and write (usually a percentage).
Life expectancy (noun) = how long people live for. An average for a population.
Moderate (adjective) = average.
Virtuous circle (noun) = when one good thing starts to happen, it causes other good things happen.