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Language education company marks decline in Taiwan's English proficiency

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's English proficiency ranking fell among 60 countries and territories, according to an annual English Proficiency Index Report released recently by EF Education First, a global language education company.

The report tracked the English skills of 750,000 adults in 60 non-English speaking countries and territories in 2013. Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands took the top three places, while Taiwan's ranking dropped three places, going from the 30th to 33rd, the report said.

EF Taiwan said that the English test was conducted via the Internet, with all participants having volunteered to take the examination. The institution added that around 8,000 Taiwanese participated in the test.

The firm said that given all participants took the exam voluntarily, there is a possibility that the index report could not fully reflect a country's English proficiency.

EF said based on the annual English Proficiency Index Report over the past six years, Taiwanese' English skills have increased, but not as much as other Asian countries.

Singapore ranks 12th, categorized as having a high English proficiency by EF. Moderate proficiency countries and territories include Hong Kong (22nd place), South Korea (24th), Japan (26th), and Vietnam (28th).

Mainland China's ranking rose from 36th place out of 54 countries last year to 34th this year. Both mainland China and Taiwan are categorized as low English proficiency countries.

The language education company said that some countries realized the close connection between their people's English skills and the countries' competiveness in international society. Vietnam has invested US$250 million toward elevating its English teachers' language proficiency, EF said.

The firm also said that most of Taiwan's English tests center on reading and writing skills, and therefore might not lead people to improve their English through a broader understanding of the language.

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