六都成人英語力 台南大躍升Tainan City leaps from bottom to 3rd in English proficiency among Taiwan’s six special municipalitie

2018-11-07

EF國際文教機構(EF Education First,以下簡稱EF)調查全球八十個非英語母語國家的成年人英文程度,結果於今(7)日公布,發現台南民眾英文程度高於全國平均,屬於中級程度。EF並以台灣六都做分析,2017年台南民眾英語程度原屬六都之末,2018年則躍居第三,僅次於台北與新北。為此,EF特別頒發「最佳進步獎」予台南市政府。
EF表示,全球英語能力指標( EF EPI)排行,台灣較去年退步0.16分,名次更一舉退後8名,排名往中後段位移一來到全球第48名,在亞洲則排名第10。瑞典則從荷蘭奪回世界冠軍的寶座,新加坡位居第三,也是EP有史以来,首度有亞洲國家進入世界前三名。

依據EF調查結果,台灣整體分數為51.88分,不僅低於全球平均53.34分,也落後亞洲整體平均53.49分,在EF英語力能力指標所評等的程度中,與去年相同,被歸類為英語初級程度。但推行英語為第二官方語言的台南市,表現亮眼,除了進步快2分外,更超過南部區域整體平均高達2.28分,此外,台南今年還擠入城市英語中級程度之列。台灣六都的英語能力的差距極小,即使居末位的城市,仍和名古屋的英語程度相當。

台南市政府表示,聽聞此項結果雖然感到欣慰,但仍持保留態度,因提升市民英語力是滴水穿石的工作,需要時間持續漸進,「能夠帶動市民學英語的風氣就是最大的進步」。這次的EF調查結果與日前多益普及(TOEIC Bridge)的測驗結果一致:台南市民英語力高於全國平均。顯示臺南市民普遍具備基本國際溝通能力,亦可見臺南市政府推動英語成為第二官方語言政策獲得初步成效。

市府二官辦分析,此調查是由民眾自行上網填寫、參與聽力閱讀測驗。台南市今年在EF英語力調查上表現優異、得到「最佳進步獎」,應是台南市民對推動英語政策感到認同,或是想提升英語力,願意主動上網參加測驗,方能在短短一年內,呈現顯著進步的調查結果。

市府進一步表示,雙北成年人英語程度較佳的因素很多,包含年輕就業人口多、英語程度原本就較好,加上英語資源較豐富、外籍人士多、市民使用英語需求高、學習動機高⋯等等,顯示英語力城鄉差距的存在。但台南推動二官語政策的經驗顯示,政府的鼓勵與帶動,可以帶動民眾學習英語的動機與意願。與都會型地區不同,城鄉型地區普遍英語力不佳,更需要政策的引導,提供學習資源、引導學習方法,以縮短城鄉英語力差距,「讓每個市民都可以說一點英語」。

The 2018 English Proficiency Index (EPI), an online survey conducted by Education First (EF) Ltd., was released on November 7. The result indicated that Tainan made an impressive progress leaping from the bottom to 3rd in the ranking among Taiwan’s six special municipalities, behind only Taipei and New Taipei City. According to the survey, Tainan had a score higher than that of Taiwan and was categorized as Moderate in the proficiency band. In light of its outstanding performance, the Tainan City Government was awarded “The Most Improved Prize” by EF. The 2018 EF EPI included 80 non-native English countries around the world, surveying the English proficiency levels of those aged 18 or older.

As far as Taiwan’s overall performance for 2018 is concerned, the nation’s ranking is eight notches lower than 2017, falling from 40th to 48th with a decrease of 0.16 point, said EF. This year Taiwan ranks 10th in the Asia region, while Singapore ranks 3rd worldwide, which is the first Asian country that enters the top-three bracket of EF EPI. The top two countries in the ranking are Sweden and the Netherlands.

In this year’s survey, Taiwan had an EF EPI score of 51.88, lagging behind both the region average of 53.49 and the world average of 53.34, and was evaluated as “Low Proficiency”. Despite the country’s less than satisfactory performance, however, Tainan, where English is being promoted as the second official language, has progressed significantly by nearly 2 points. Its score is 2.28 points higher than Taiwan’s region average. What’s more, in the City Scores parts of the index, Tainan has also made into the Moderate band along with Taipei and New Taipei City.

The Tainan City Government was pleased about the result but still held reservations about it. It believes that promoting the general public’s English proficiency requires consistent efforts and investment of time, and that “the greatest achievement lies in arousing enthusiasm in every citizen about learning English.” The survey matches the result of the TOEIC Bridge Test that English proficiency of Tainan’s citizens is above the national average, implying that most citizens are equipped with fundamental international communication skills. The city government has achieved initial success in promoting English as the second official language.

As the Office of English as the Second Language (OEASOL) pointed out, the EPI ranking was based on the test data drawn from the EF online listening and reading test, which was taken spontaneously by the subjects. It is suggested that Tainan’s outstanding performance is partly due to the citizens’ growing recognition of the EASOL policy, or was made possible by their self-motivation to improve English proficiency, which drove them to take the test spontaneously.

OEASOL further pointed out that the English proficiency gap between urban and rural areas is obvious in Taiwan. Take Taipei and New Taipei City, where the adult residents demonstrate a higher level of English proficiency than other cities. The fact that both areas have a younger employee population with a better command of English, abundance of learning resources, and a large population of foreigners, which creates demand and motivation for citizens to learn and use English, is the major factor that contributes to this phenomenon. Yet Tainan’s experience shows that with proper guidance and incentives, the government can effectively inspire citizens to learn English spontaneously. This is particularly crucial for rural areas, where easy access to learning resources and methods are needed in order to close the gap between city and countryside. The ultimate objective of the EASOL policy is “to make every citizen able to speak a little English,” said OEASOL.