When we talk about linga francas (that is a common language between speakers whose native languages are different) English has become the dominant language that is now the most widely used language in global trade and commerce. Therefore, it is interesting to take a look at the English proficiency levels of the Indonesian people.

The Proficiency Index compiled by English First (EF) is a good indicator to measure English language proficiency in nations across the world as this index is known as the world's largest ranking of English skills.

Indonesia ranks 32nd - from a total of 72 countries surveyed - with a score of 52.91 points. This position is lower than most of its regional peers in Southeast Asia. For example, Singapore (6th), Malaysia (12th), the Philippines (13th), and Vietnam (31st) all score better in the index.

Juli Simatupang, EF Director for Corporate Affairs, said the level of English proficiency is still low in Indonesia. This situation can be attributed to several factors. Most importantly, Indonesia lacks the public understanding that English is an important international language. This is a true problem because well-developed English language skills help to compete in the global world.

Besides the lack of awareness, another key factor that limits English language proficiency in Indonesia is that the education curriculum has limited focus on English. In terms of language, the main focus within Indonesian education is on standard Indonesian as well as on local languages. Lastly, the English language skills of Indonesian teachers is also limited, especially when further away from the bigger cities.

English First (EF) Proficiency Index:

Country Score
1. Netherlands 72.16
2. Denmark 71.15
3. Sweden 70.81
4. Norway 68.54
5. Finland 66.61
6. Singapore 63.52
12. Malaysia 60.70
13. Philippines 60.33
22. India 57.30
27. South Korea 54.87
30. Hong Kong 54.29
31. Vietnam 54.06
32. Indonesia 52.94
33. Taiwan 52.82
35. Japan 51.69
39. China 50.94

Source: English First