Int’l survey ranks Vietnam’s English-language proficiency as low

By Tue Nguyen, Thanh Nien News

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Representatives of Pennsylvania State University (L) talk with Vietnamese students during a US education fair in Hanoi. Photo: Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP Representatives of Pennsylvania State University (L) talk with Vietnamese students during a US education fair in Hanoi. Photo: Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP

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Education First's 2014  English Proficiency Index ranked Vietnam at “low proficiency.”
The survey scored Vietnam at 51.57 and it ranked 33rd out of 63 non-native English speaking countries participating in the test, according to information released at a Hanoi conference on Monday.
Vietnam ranked 28th on last year's index.
Denmark came first on the list scoring 69.30, followed by the Netherlands and Sweden.
Vietnam ranks above several countries in the region, such as China at rank 37, Thailand 48 and Cambodia 61.
Adults in Ho Chi Minh City are a little bit more proficient than those in Hanoi, scoring 53.44 compared to 51.76, according to the report.
The report also showed that Vietnamese women speak better English than men.
Nguyen Thi Ngoc Anh from the Vietnam Institute of Educational Sciences said that English education in Vietnam is challenged by a lack of resources.
Anh said many English teachers require further training and more modern teaching methods.
Minh Tran, the director of research and academic cooperation at Education First, said the proficiency gap between Vietnam and European countries has stifled opportunities for economic cooperation.
Tran suggested that English education in Vietnam be designed for the purpose of better communication skills instead of better test scores.
“Vietnamese students should be put in an environment that requires them to communicate in English as much as possible,” he said at the conference.
Education First was founded in 1965 by Bertil Hult and is privately operated by the Hult family of Switzerland.
The company’s EPI is based on the results of two English tests given every year.
One test is free and open online at www.efset.org to anyone with a computer connected to the Internet.
Another test is also open online, but only to students enrolled at its schools.
Both tests include sections on vocabulary, grammar, comprehensive reading and listening.
This year's fourth EPI was based on the test results from 750,000 in 2013.
Valid participating countries had at least 400 people take the tests.
Each test is calibrated to the taker's ability--that is, those who answer many questions correctly, receive progressively harder questions.

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