Business English Dominated by Filipinos

|| Business & Social Media |

The Makati Business District at night. Now the largest provider of call center operations in the world, the Philippines achieved the highest BEI (Business English Index) score among 76 countries included in the GlobalEnglish report.  Photo credits: Jeruih under a Creative Commons license.

This century is becoming more Asian by the minute. While Western nations reel from economic recessions at the home front, global business is kept humming by thriving Asian economies led by India and China. Making matters more interesting, the lingua franca that helps articulate cross-border innovation and drive global business is now being dominated by the Philippines, according to an eye-opening report by GlobalEnglish Corporation.

According to the 2012 report, much of the world's business discourse is now conducted among non-native English speakers. Among this group, the Filipinos deliver an unmatched performance in terms of business English proficiency, even beating the United States and other native English-speaking countries. In the study involving 76 countries, the Philippines attained a score of 7.11 in the annual Business English Index (BEI) survey, the only one to breach the 7.0 benchmark that indicates intermediate proficiency. Norway earned the closest score at 6.54 while the US score slid from 6.9 to 5.09.

The BEI was set up by California-based GlobalEnglish, a top provider of cloud-based solutions on Enterprise Fluency and a respected think tank consulted by more than 500 global corporations including Procter & Gamble, Cisco, BNP Paribas, and GlaxoSmithKline. To date, the BEI is the only system that evaluates English competence in the workplace.

Interestingly, both the Philippines and Norway were in the top five in the previous year's annual report, affirming the correlation between economic growth and improved BEI levels. This is because a high BEI level indicates competence for assuming major roles in business discourses and for taking on and successfully accomplishing complex tasks. Based on GDP data from the World Bank, both countries are indeed improving economically and exhibit signs of continued business success. The Philippines, in particular, has already surpassed India--a country with a population that is ten times that of the Pacific archipelago--as the largest global provider of call centers.

In hindsight, the rise of the Philippines as the dominant source of quality English communicators seems inevitable. English has been part of the country's culture and national dialogue for decades and is one of two official languages in government, business, education, and popular media. In addition to broadsheets, radio and television, the pervading influence of English can also be felt in new digital channels such as blogs and entertainment portals. 

Elsewhere, the shortage of corporate talent with acceptable English competence is alarming. In many advanced economies such as Japan and in emerging markets such as Brazil, the average BEI scored at less than 4.0. Of the BRIC countries, only China (4.44) and India (5.57) earned scores above 4.0. This represents a productivity challenge among multinational companies, especially at a junction where global business is being driven by robust markets in non-native English speaking countries.  

Based on GlobalEnglish report, here are the 10 best and worst performing countries in terms of BEI:

10 Best Countries in terms of BEI

  1. Philippines
  2. Norway
  3. Serbia
  4. Slovenia
  5. Australia
  6. Malaysia
  7. India
  8. Lithuania
  9. Singapore
  10. Canada

10 Worst Countries in terms of BEI

  1. Armenia
  2. Cote d'Ivoire
  3. Taiwan
  4. Honduras
  5. Columbia
  6. Chile
  7. El Salvador
  8. Saudi Arabia
  9. Israel
  10. Brazil

GlobalEnglish Corporation provides cloud-based solutions and insights on Enterprise Fluency. A respected think tank based in Brisbane, Califiornia, GlobalEnglish is consulted by more than 500 global corporations including Procter & Gamble, Cisco, BNP Paribas, and GlaxoSmithKline. To date, the BEI is the only system that evaluates English competence in the workplace. To view the full report, visit