HK Business News

Now even Japan beats Hong Kong when it comes to English

The English proficiency of local students has declined and Hong Kong is now on the 17th position among 12 Asian nations, falling behind Japan.

According to an international English study center, Education First, Singapore is ranked first among Asian nations.

Here is the ranking for the top six nations.

(1) Singapore

(2) Malaysia

(3) India

(4) Pakistan

(5) South Korea

(6) Japan

In a similar study by the group between 2007 and 2009, Hong Kong was ranked second among 10 rivals.

Hong Kong General Chamber of Small and Medium Business president, David Ting Tit-cheung, mentioned graduates cannot even write proper job applications.

“It is apparent that the English proficiency level of university graduates and young workers has dropped in the past few years,” Ting said. The education center operates in many cities and compares students’ English proficiency across Asia through a standard test.

The research took place at 54 cities and nations covering 1.7 million test takers between 2009 and 2011.

Hong Kong was ranked 25th.

More than 400 people took the Hong Kong language test covering grammar, writing, reading and listening skills.

Although the reason for such a decline is still unknown, many believe it is due to the handover to the Mainland. In the past recent years, students feel more motivated to learn Mandarin rather than English due to the increase of business between Mainland China and Hong Kong.

Due to the handover, there is now a huge demand for people how can do business in Mandarin since a lot of HongKongers need to go to the Mainland on business trips. This explains why students spend more time studying Madarin rather than English nowadays.

“Indeed, a student’s exposure to the English language has been reduced in classes since the mother-tongue was used as a medium of instruction.”, a real estate agent said.

For almost a hundred years, the main medium of instruction at public schools was English. Only Chinese language classes and Chinese history classes were taught in Cantonese. Due to the handover in 1997, English has been replaced by Cantonese as the main medium of instruction in most public schools across the SAR.

About the author

Alan Chiu Tsang

Alan is a freelancer photographer and author for
He graduated from Hong Kong university in 2005.