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A recent online survey claims that China has better English verbal skills than neighboring India, but just barely. EF Education ranked the world’s English proficiency through an online survey between 2007 and 2008. The highest-ranking nation in the survey was Norway, China ranked 29th, and India 30th, while Kazakhstan was last at number 44. The survey was admittedly not scientific (see for yourself), but it did reveal the level and breadth of interest in studying and improving English skills across broad swathes of the globe.

In the case of India, the ranking came as a bit of a surprise: English is a national language and widely used in government and media. India’s historic use of English, first as a byproduct of colonization by England, then as a neutral communication choice among rivaling local languages and dialects, has made it a first choice for outsourcing call centers and IT services.

However a 2009 British Council report revealed a dearth of English teachers and high quality learning institutions across India. According to the Indian National Knowledge Committee, less than 1% of Indians speak English as a second language (with a population of over 1 billion people, that’s still 10 million English speakers). However recent statistics vary widely with some outsourcing specialists claiming English proficiency of up to 19% or 90 million people.

In contrast, China has made learning English part of its economic strengthening strategy. In 2010, there were estimated to be over 100,000 native English-speaking teachers in China, workers in a market worth three billion dollars annually.

In your experience, which country has the greatest command of the English language? Please restrict your comments to language-related topics; any remarks lacking civility may result in your banishment from the Hot Word commenting community.

No brown skins. (Hispanic Americans and the 1986 Immigration Reform Act)

The Economist (US) February 3, 1990 No brown skins SAN FRANCISCO HISPANIC Americans were against the 1986 Immigration Reform Act; they feared it would give employers an excuse not to hire people who looked or sounded Hispanic. They were right, it seems. The California Fair Employment and Housing Commission reports that the law, which is supposed to deter illegal immigration, has created “a widespread pattern and practice of discrimination” against legal immigrants.

The law fines or imprisons those employers who are caught hiring illegal immigrants. Nervous employers are playing safe by brushing aside official work permits and declining to hire people with brown skins and Latin names and accents. The law, which was supposed to protect people against this happening, created a special counsel to hear complaints and to act on them. But there is just one special-counsel office, and that is in Washington, DC. Few immigrants even learn of its existence, let alone approach it with complaints. go to website illegal immigration statistics

In addition, reports the Californian commission (an independent agency established 30 years ago to protect civil rights in jobs and housing), the Immigration and Nationalisation Service (INS) issues such a variety of different immigrant classifications that employers cannot be familiar with what is official and what is not. The confusion is compounded by the amnesty that the law gave to illegal immigrants who could prove that they had lived in the United States since 1981, plus the special rules for agricultural workers. The sorting-out of all this leaves the immigration service snowed under with forms and letters of work-approval.

Although the INS claims to have spent $2m on educational material explaining the law, the explanation, the commission says sternly, is “inadequate…incomplete and confusing”. As remedy, the commission proposes a temporary moratorium on employer sanctions until the backlog of appeals for work authorisation is cleared, the educational material is rewritten and special counsel offices are opened around the country. go to website illegal immigration statistics

The California report is important since about half the immigrants who come to the United States seeking work authorisation come to California. But it is only one in a series of reports on the effect of the 1986 law. A New York task force is due to report to Governor Mario Cuomo soon. And in a month or two, the General Accounting Office (GAO), which was officially charged to monitor the consequences of the immigration controls, will be issuing its findings. Last year the GAO reported that about 16% of some 3.3m employers who were aware of the new rules did discriminate against foreign-looking applicants. The report called for a more co-ordinated effort to educate the public but, unlike the California commission, it did not declare that a “pattern” of discrimination had resulted from the act.

If the GAO now finds such a pattern, it would trigger changes in the law. Congress would have 30 days to consider lifting sanctions against employers. But if the GAO reports that it has found no serious discrimination, the provisions in the law that are supposed to protect workers against bias would be removed. In any event, the GAO report will set off a fiery debate in Congress.

Part of the debate is whether the law’s strictness has in fact cut down illegal immigration. Statistics from the INS suggest that it has. In 1986 1.6m people were caught trying to enter from Mexico; in 1989, with more border guards, the total had shrunk to 850,000 people. Either they are getting cleverer at evading the guards, or the law, despite its unfair side-effects, is working.

166 Comments

  1. san -  April 14, 2014 - 7:58 am

    What a f? who post that Chinese can speak English?i m living in China since 2004 ,its nearly 10 years. Now I speak fluent Mandarin here .OMG who post that Chinese can speak better English than Indians? Please see the truth ,Chinese can never speak English and even they graduate in English they cannot understand even few words of your 1 sentence ,I have met graduates from USA,Chinese national ,They even cannot speak English .They are dumb people ,no creativity at all .The truth is they know few words in English in American accent and that’s it .

    Reply
  2. Hobson Jobson -  February 6, 2014 - 9:48 am

    I wonder whether Hong Kong has better English skills than does Mainland China. On the one hand, one would think that a former colony of Britain would have fair-to-good English skills. On the other, I’ve read on a few online forums that this is not the case in Hong Kong, where, despite the usage of English for official and public information purposes, the levels of fluency remain questionable.

    Reply
  3. Sweet Suspense Should Not Have Been Kicked Off The X Factor -  November 21, 2013 - 5:14 am

    In my opinion, Great Britain speaks English most fluently. :-P

    Am I the only one who watches the X Factor here? I can’t believe Sweet Suspense was in last place. Guess we’ll see who else leaves tomorrow. :-( I just hope it’s not Jeff Gutt. I think I want him to win. He is awesome. :-)

    (I am also known as “wolf tamer and tree puncher”.)

    Reply
  4. sabysmith -  September 3, 2013 - 4:08 am

    been delivering learning solutions to a large number of global clients. Axis-v’s activities range from custom content development, Learning Management System, language training, life skills training to complete end-to-end learning solutions. During the decade of our service, we have developed innumerable hours of content on various domains including technology, processes, management, HR, culture, human efficiency, soft skills, school education, higher education and so on.

    Reply
  5. carnis -  December 13, 2012 - 7:36 pm

    why south asian should never speak english in front of chinese people ?
    ans:- 1 . poor english accent 2. limited vocabulary 3. chinese students have been to english medium school 4. chinese students are good at copycat 5. chinese students are wealthy than south asians.

    chinese students mentality : if u buy ford car from usa means the original one but if u buy the same car from china or germany and so on means duplicate. it’s very hard to explain something to some people.

    Reply
  6. Sharon -  July 25, 2012 - 12:16 am

    Indian speaks much much better english rather than China. In china chinese people pronounce alphabet wrongly like A as AO, B as BO. I am living in china, its very hard for english speakers to live here as everything is in chinese and if i ask for help they will disappear like i am gonna kill them.

    Reply
  7. James -  April 15, 2012 - 7:03 am

    INDIA:

    English is considered as one of the official language of India apart from Hindi, India a former British colony.

    CHINA:

    Mandarin is the official language of China.

    Infact, this is not even a debatable topic, by all means I would highly recommend to delete this topic whoever is responsible for this crap.

    Reply
  8. Corporate Boy -  April 14, 2012 - 5:10 pm

    According to the latest wikipedia official report, obtained results of the figures, charts and statistics of each country have been carefully examined based on many factors. The link to this information had been provided below, incase you may want to check out!

    1. USA
    2. INDIA
    3. (etc)….
    18. China.

    Besides, this is incredibly shambolic to compare India and China in terms of “English Speaking…..”, the answer is obvious! Chinese are doing pretty good with their Mandarin/Cantonese/English (minor), whereas, Indians are well equiped with their Hindi/English (major). [Accent is secondary unless you are a noob and......we'll talk about that later :D ]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_English-speaking_population

    Word of caution for the wise ones, please don’t post the next topic like “China And India, which country is more/most corrupted ?”, The whole world knows the answer! again, it is India ahead of China in terms of corruption : ) bummer!……eh ? Chillax folks….have a nice weekend!

    Regards
    JXXXX

    Reply
  9. April -  April 11, 2012 - 3:04 pm

    I call BS on this one. Anyone who has had to deal with Tech Support that outsources to places such as China and India will learn that while you can teach them English, that does not mean that they will make any sense to you over the phone or online. And don’t forget the foreign products that come to the US only to have poor grasp of grammar if any.

    Reply
  10. Jessica -  April 9, 2012 - 7:12 am

    Well, as a native Chinese i have to say that, at least in my opinion, Indian get a higher level English, especially in speaking and writing. English in China is not that practical. Only students and those american/british soap opera fans will learn English and work hard on it, and i bet, to most students English is not that one for them, they learn English just to pass the exam and get into a better high school or uni(btw, not all american/british soap opera fans will learn English hard, since many of them tend to understand the context not by listening but by staring at subtitles in Chinese…). In daily lives have we almost no chance using it. Only trade companies need those employees with moderate-level English, and i believe, most of them cannot understand american jokes.

    Reply
  11. Vicaari -  April 7, 2012 - 9:12 am

    Not to worry guys/gals. If & when a Chinese takes up a name like Kevin, Kelvin or John, Paul George (4 a guy); or Christine, Diana & such … they better know how to speak English well

    Thanks 4 the info

    PS: such a topic makes Dictionary.com blog travsety

    Reply
  12. Helga -  March 23, 2012 - 9:06 am

    Anyway, since India had long been an English colony, there people have historically more opportunities to speak English better. But though accents commonly are off in both.

    Reply
  13. octavia -  March 20, 2012 - 9:25 am

    I work for EF and am part of the English teaching staff. There are a lot of people from China who learn English through us. However, they find it hard to speak and form sentences correctly. I have been to India and I found them to be able to speak much better English than the Chinese. I have had amazing conversations even with the ‘auto rickshaw drivers’ and they are not the most educated lot.

    That being said, I believe that most high ranking Government officials in China speak fluent English (though they wouldn’t really want you to know that if you are a westerner trying to expand your business into China).

    Reply
  14. jackisback -  March 19, 2012 - 1:28 pm

    i am indian . and now a days . most of the education we do in english medium . except in rural areas ; where they prefer regional language . but when any student going for higher university education . he had to face english . coz there is only one medium left to study.so every student do his entire studies in english , but may not use english as communication during those period . in those circumstances if the survey had taken then the worst results will be appeared .. the best point for indians is they had learned everything in english but never communicated , which make them cease . but i know any indian can communicate fluently like others in just 3 months . as i am one of them . :P lol .the best example is many 10 stundents or 12 th students . works in BPO / call center . they ware nill at beginning , but after 3 months i found they were transformed , even they are failed in english subject during school days . well i hate english grammer and i am PG MBA . lolz .

    Reply
  15. manali -  March 13, 2012 - 3:42 am

    I have heard that Chinese are really hard working,,,, must tell you Indians are hard working too…but if we talk about English then of course India is far better than china at least when it comes to speaking….That is the reason UK US deal with us.

    Reply
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