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New Pearson study shows speakers of English as a second or additional language see mastery of English as vital for job prospects and to earn more money

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New research from Pearson shows the life-changing impact English proficiency is having on people’s work and personal lives worldwide, as it proves crucial to higher pay, wider job opportunities, and leading more fulfilling personal lives.   

Pearson interviewed more than 5,000 speakers of English as a second or additional language from Japan, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Italy, and Florida (USA). Pearson commissioned the research to showcase its Global Scale of English (GSE) which fast-tracks learner progress and builds confidence by helping learners understand where they are on their journey, what they need to learn next, and demonstrating progress regularly. Through this research, Pearson wanted to understand people’s reasons for learning English, as well as their current confidence levels when using the language. The Global Scale of English focuses on the real-world skills needed for communication both at work and in personal lives. 

Across all countries, 80 percent of respondents believe English proficiency skills are directly linked to earning potential, viewing strong English language skills as leading to as much as an 80% salary increase.   

Those with the highest English proficiency are more satisfied with their existing income and jobs. According to the research, three-quarters (75%) of advanced English speakers are satisfied with their income, compared with less than half (47%) of beginner English speakers. Nearly 9 in 10 (88%) advanced speakers are satisfied with their job, but this number goes down to fewer than two-thirds (64%) among beginners.  

The study from Pearson also shows more than half (51%) of English learners think knowing the language will open up a wider range of job roles, while two-fifths (40%) say English will help them climb the ladder to more senior positions in their field – a number which increases to 56% in Saudi Arabia, and to half (50%) in Brazil and Florida.  

Gio Giovannelli, President of English Language Learning at Pearson said:
This new research shows the importance of English in helping people lead more fulfilling lives both in and outside of the workplace. And yet, many people still struggle with a lack of confidence in their English proficiency, which is having an impact on their ability to perform daily tasks at work, to interact with others, and even to simply engage with the world around them, or on social media. With an AI-dominated future causing job uncertainty, the importance of English as a differentiating skill will only grow, which is why we’re encouraging people who want to learn English to act now and boost their skills fast with learning that’s personalised to their level.”  

Futureproofing against AI  

With AI knocking on the door, the research revealed many employees are uncertain about the future of their jobs. Almost 40% of survey respondents believe their job is likely to be replaced by AI within the next 5 years. Indeed, more than 40% of respondents said they were learning English to help mitigate the impact of AI and technology on their jobs.  

Lack of confidence in English proficiency, despite needing to use it frequently  

Pearson found that, while 85% of people feel that English is critical for work and more than 60% use English on a weekly basis, only a quarter feel confident across all four skills of reading, listening, writing, and speaking English in the workplace. Nearly three-quarters (72%) went as far as to say their jobs would be easier if they knew better English, and only a quarter (27%) of respondents felt they could fully express themselves when using the language to do their jobs.   

Employees want Employers to do more  

The vast majority of employees (88%) think English language training is an important skill that should be offered by employers, but only a third said their employers offer this training. Employers need to step up and consider how they can provide language learning for their workforce.    

English as a skill for life; not just work  

However, it’s not just for job and income prospects where English skills are proving critical. Over three-quarters (79%) of respondents said it’s an important skill in their personal lives, and 81% think it will be increasingly necessary in the future. Nearly half said that making progress in English has made them more confident across all areas of their life.   

Indeed, motivators for wanting to learn English outside of work included: a desire to travel more (55%), to be able to watch TV, films, and online content in English (50%), and to be able to read the English around them (48%). These three motivators were generally the same across all countries, but respondents from Saudi Arabia and Brazil also said it would help them with their future studies (49% and 51%), while respondents from Florida noted that English skills could help them access better services like healthcare and education (36%).  

Making friends was also given as a key reason for learning English, with nearly a third (30%) listing it as a motivator and a fifth (20%) saying they already had more friends thanks to their English skills. It’s also boosting people’s social media prowess: a tenth (10%) of respondents said better use of English meant they had attracted more followers. 

A shortfall in relevant English education 

While English learning is widespread (8 in 10 learnt English in school, and two thirds had an English qualification), 54% felt their formal education failed to equip them with a good enough level of English to communicate properly. Over half (56%) said this was because their learning was focused on grammar and vocabulary, rather than using English in real-world situations. Half of the respondents indicated that they lacked sufficient occasions to apply the English language beyond the confines of the classroom.   

For more information on Pearson GSE,  visit: https://www.pearson.com/languages/impact-of-english-research 

 

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