Global Snapshot of English Proficiency: A New Report by Pearson

Global Snapshot of English Proficiency

English language ability has never been in more demand. Learners believe that English can be the gateway to working globally from anywhere – and now that remote work has become the norm, this premise will only be reinforced.  

Internationally-facing companies around the world are increasingly seeking employees who have a high level of English intelligibility and can effectively communicate in a business environment. This is why HR professionals and hiring managers turn to Versant English language tests. These tests play a crucial role in helping companies recruit English-speaking talent and upskill their employees. With over 1.6 million tests delivered in 2020, Versant tests are widely used by a wide range of employers and other institutions 

Consequently, analyzing score data from Versant test-takers can provide detailed insight into the state of English around the world. Based on our findings, we’ve created a report titled A Global Snapshot of English Proficiency. In it, you can learn about the English speaking and writing levels of Versant test-takers, and how they are changing. 

Let’s take a closer look. 

About the report 

The Global Snapshot of English Proficiency Report uncovers fascinating trends and facts about the state of English proficiency among Versant test-takers from various countries. It looks at 9 key regions where companies use Versant tests to assess English proficiency:  

  • Africa: Egypt, Kenya, South Africa 
  • Asia Pacific: China, Japan 
  • Central America: Costa Rica, Guatemala, Jamaica 
  • Europe: France, Germany, Italy 
  • The Middle East and Central Asia: Jordan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates 
  • North America: Canada, Mexico, United States 
  • South America: Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela 
  • South Asia: India 
  • Southeast Asia: Philippines 

The report analyzes the scores of non-native test-takers who are seeking employment or placement in a language program. In addition, the majority of test-takers we sampled are in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Americas. 

Most of the Versant users in the report are corporations, call centers, universities, and language training centers. Above all, they are looking to evaluate the English proficiency of students, job candidates, or employees. 

Key global findings 

Now, let’s look at some of the key findings of the report. Remember, the data shows the level of English among Versant test-takers and is not representative of the level of English in each country or region as a whole.  

In the Global Snapshot of English Proficiency Report, Pearson English researchers uncovered six key trends: 

  1. Overall Versant English Speaking Test (VET) mean performance increased from 2015 to 2019 in six of the nine regions. 
  2. Test-takers in North America and Central America achieved the highest level of speaking skills. 
  3. The Asia Pacific region, with large numbers of Japanese and Chinese test-takers, had the lowest VET mean score 
  4. Overall Versant Writing Test (VWT) mean performance decreased from 2015 to 2019 in six of the nine regions. 
  5. South-East Asia and South Asia, the regions where Versant Writing is most widely used, ranked toward the middle in terms of mean performance. 
  6. North America and South Asia achieved the highest combined overall level of English language proficiency. 

However, these are just some highlights from the report. To get a more detailed look at the results, including the mean scores of each region and their comparisons, download the report now. 

All in all, it is promising to see that speaking test scores are increasing in most regions, considering how important verbal communication skills are in today’s workplace. At the same time, we’re intrigued by the decrease in writing test scores and will be further investigating the reason for this trend. 

A spotlight on three countries: India, the Philippines, and Japan 

To dig a little deeper into the statistics, we included case studies of three countries in the report: India, the Philippines, and Japan. These stories highlight the most interesting facts about the English language learning trends we spotted in these countries. 

To sum up: 

  • India: As of 2019, India employed more than half of the world’s IT outsourcing employees. Since 2015, there’s been a 20x increase in Versant test takers from India.  
  • Philippines: The Philippines is continuing to stay competitive in the IT outsourcing industry. Moreover, the five key industries using Versant include healthcare, BPO, finance, hospitality, and IT/telecom. 
  • Japan: English teaching remains strong within the formal education system, but language skills are still low. 90% of Versant test takers are existing employees in Japanese companies. This means that companies are putting great effort into upskilling their employees.

All things considered, despite their own unique challenges, all three countries have made progress in both English learning and assessment.  

To access the detailed case studies, as well as the mean performance scores of these countries and lots of additional insights on the state of English worldwide, download the Global Snapshot of English Proficiency Report. 

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