Chilean level of English proficiency falls in international rankings

Isabel Cocker/The Santiago Times Staff

SANTIAGO – According to a study, performed by Education First, Chile’s level of English proficiency has been ranked as 45th out of 90 studied countries.

This is the second consecutive year in which the country has fallen in ranking, down from 36th in 2015 and 42nd in 2016.

The study measures the level of English spoken by the citizens of each country, not necessarily the number of people who speak it. The marketing manager of English First, Roberto Guerra, explained to news website Emol that “the skills it measure are those of listening and reading comprehension, and the tests are aligned with standards developed by the European council.”

The study judged that Chileans could “only maintain a brief conversation in English, write a simple email and understand the basics if they are in an English-speaking city as a tourist”, according to a document published by Chilean newspaper La Tercera.

It reported that the level of English spoken by Chileans has actually improved within the last years, but the level of progress has been outstripped by other countries. This study places Chile in seventh place in Latin America, behind Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Brazil, Uruguay and Mexico.

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Split by demographics, the study showed that it is women who speak better English than men, and that the younger generations also have higher skills, with proficiency falling as age increases. The worst levels are seen in people aged 40+.

The study also announced that the city with the best level of English is Viña del Mar, followed by Santiago, Concepción, Antofagasta, Temuco and Valparaiso. Viña del Mar is one of the most-visited cities by English-speaking tourists in Chile, which could explain the need for inhabitants to speak English.