Shanghai is more English language proficient than any other place in China — and that’s including Hong Kong.
At least that’s according to a new global survey conducted by EF (Education First). The company’s English Proficiency Index (EPI) for 2016 administered online English tests to 950,000 adults in 72 different countries and regions around the world to find out where the best non-native English-speakers reside.
As you might expect, China ended up in the lower end of the pack, ranking 39th overall with a score of just 50.94 out of 100, or a “low” English language proficiency language.
Surprisingly, Hong Kong didn’t do much better, registering a 54.29 score, good for 30th on the list — below Spain, Bulgaria, Italy, South Korea and France — and a “moderate” English language proficiency.
Even more surprisingly, when you actually break down China into different cities, provinces and regions, Shanghai comes out on top with a 55.54 score. After Hong Kong, Beijing places third at 53.49, then comes Taiwan and Tianjin. Yunnan Province received the lowest score in China.
Regarding Hong Kong’s shockingly lackluster score, EF explains that recently Cantonese has received an “elevated status” in the city as a way to stave off encroachment from the Mandarin-speaking mainland, according to CNBC. Still, Mandarin has supplanted English as the city’s second most important language.
Meanwhile, in mainland China, English language skills are still seen as a necessity to obtaining high-paying jobs in large corporations. English language proficiency continues to increase in the country, putting it above Brazil, Ukraine, Chile and Mexico in this year’s list. Nowhere is this more true than in Shanghai, which has seen its score shoot up 4.35 points in the last 5 years, placing it before countries like Italy and France.
Still, it’s important to note that these were “online tests” meaning that the scores likely do not reflect test-takers’ English speaking ability.
Northern European countries continue to dominate the top of the list with the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Sweden taking the top five spots. But another British colony that has better maintained its English language skills managed to sneak into the highest profiency category with Singapore taking 6th place.