Women and managers are better at speaking English, study on proficiency finds

According to the 2018 EF English Proficiency Index (EPI), women and managers speak better English.
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It’s official – women speak better English than men.

A global study on English proficiency among non-native speakers has found for the eighth year in a row that women have a better command of spoken English when compared to men.

The 2018 EF English Proficiency Index (EPI) took into account 1.3 million adults who are non-native English speakers, across 88 countries and regions.

The findings suggested that women speak better English than men because female students are more motivated when it comes to learning foreign languages. Not only do women use a wider variety of strategies to retain new information, they are also more willing to make mistakes.

However, businesses are not benefiting as much as they could from women’s English skills.

“Studies have shown that women speak less in meetings and negotiations than men and are interrupted more when they do speak,” the EF report said.

Similar findings were reported in Asia.

A chart comparing the gender gap regarding English proficiency, in Asia and globally.
EF

Compared to last year, this year’s study found that Asian women had slightly higher scores, while men’s scores declined slightly.

Last year, there was only half a point difference in men and women’s English proficiency. This year, the difference increased to one and a half points. And according to the study, this “significantly” widened the gender gap in Asia.

Specifically, women in Singapore scored 69.63 while men in Singapore scored 1.97 points lower.

Malaysia was an exception – men there scored 60.09, 1.38 points higher than the female score.

EF also reported that Singapore and Malaysia are among the top three highest ranking Asian countries in terms of English proficiency.

Managers speak better English at work

At work, managers all over the world have a better grasp of English than executives or staff, regardless of gender.

EF attributed this to the assumption that managers interact more with their colleagues and clients overseas, thus providing them more opportunities to practise speaking English.

The study also found that Asia has the smallest proficiency gap between managers and executives. Executives are keeping pace with their management teams in mastering English, the study said.

The seniority gaps in English proficiency.
EF

According to EF, English-speaking skills are highly valued at the workplace, as more proficient English speakers often get promoted to managerial positions.