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12 Asian Countries That Speak English

Asian countries that speak English are the best vacation and investment destinations for those coming from the West.

English is widely used in education and business in Asian nations. Everyone agree that there is a significant divide between individuals who are proficient in English and those who are not. This linguistic divide between urban and rural areas is evident.

Due to the population’s variety, it is challenging to determine the precise number of English speakers. Yet, the Asian region is home to 372 million native English speakers and a billion non-native English speakers.

English is the official language of several Asian nations, including Singapore, the Philippines, Nepal, India, and Pakistan.

An estimated 125 million people speak English in India. There are around 94 and 90 million English speakers respectively in Pakistan and the Philippines, two other nations.

The remainder of Asia can still speak in English, despite this. Moreover, English was incorporated into many regional languages in various ways. As a result, English is used as a common language among several Asian nations.

Asia has the widest variation in English competence when compared to the rest of the world’s regions. First on the list of countries having the most native English speakers are Singapore and the Philippines.

Malaysia is located in the middle of Asia. It has extremely little English language competency, like with Indonesia and Thailand.

The 2021 edition of Education First’s English Proficiency Index included 24 Asian countries (EPI). There are several non-native English-speaking nations and areas that have been studied.

According to the EF EPI (Education First’s English Proficiency Index) study, Singapore gets the highest score, 635. Tajikistan has the lowest score of 405 among the English-speaking Asian nations.

Nonetheless, the English Proficiency Index Asia at the regional level of Education First is at 504 average points with middling competency bands.

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12 Asian Countries That Speak English

1. Singapore

Singapore is popularly known as one of the Asian countries that speak English very fluently.

With 66.82, Singapore’s English Proficiency Index (EPI) indicates that a sizable portion of the population is proficient in utilizing the English language.

This indicates that more than 66% of its female population and 67% of its male residents, respectively, are literate in English.

In terms of English proficiency worldwide, Singaporeans are ranked fifth out of 100 nations. International English Language Testing System in the nation reflects this (IELTS). At 7.41, it is considered to be among the highest.

The educational system in Singapore, which uses English as the main medium of teaching, is often credited for contributing to the country’s English dialect proficiency.

The four official languages of Singapore are English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay, and Tamil. Malay is the national language of the country.

English is also the most widely spoken language, particularly among those under 50. School lessons are taught in English. Singapore’s official and business languages are both English, which is based on British English.

As Singaporean schools have taught mostly in English since the 1970s, most English-speaking visitors will as well. Singlish does exist, though. English and Singaporean are mixed together.

Singlish is furthermore a social and intellectual marker.

High-level English-educated Singaporeans are expected to move seamlessly between Singlish in casual circumstances and English in formal ones. Singlish may be the only language used by those with less education in English.

2. Philippines

The Philippines is one of the most well-known Asian countries that speak English. The EPI is high at 60.14%. In terms of gender, more Filipino males (60.14%) speak English than women (59.96%), who follow closely.

It is ranked 20th out of 100 nations in the world for English Proficiency. Prior to then, it ranked 14th out of 88 nations.

According to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, the Philippines now has a score of B1 (indicating a threshold or intermediate understanding of the English language) (CEFR). The Philippines is rated seventh in the world for highest average IELTS scores.

Aside from Filipino languages, the English language is also regarded a main dialect in this English Speaking Nation in Asia. Similar to Singapore, the majority of educational teaching is given in English.

Filipino and English are both used by the government, the media, the academe, journalism, and commerce.

There are Filipino speakers, however the media and publications tend to use English more often. Considering that not all Filipinos are fluent in their mother tongue, as well.

With the possible exception of the elderly generation working on farms, the bulk of the population speaks English well.

Filipinos use at least 20–30% English terminology in their conversation, with the remaining words being a combination of Filipino and their own dialect, as you can hear if you listen to them.

In addition, English is used almost exclusively in even the most well-known television soap operas.

12 Asian Countries That Speak English
Philippine flag. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

3. Malaysia

Despite the fact that English is rarely taught in Malaysian schools, the nation does better than other Asian nations. It now has an elevated EPI of 58.55% making it one of the Asian countries that speak English.

As a result, Malaysia is ranked 26th out of 100 countries and is the third best English-speaking country in Asia. The nation’s position has slightly slipped from its 2018 ranking as the 22nd most English-speaking nation.

There is a significant gender disparity, with Malaysian males speaking the vernacular at a rate of 60.2%. On the other side, women make up 57.87% of the population.

Malaysia receives a CEFR rating of B1, much like the Philippines. However, it does better on the IELTS, where it ranks third when it comes to average scores.

With a tropical climate and a wide range of tourist attractions, Malaysia is a varied and rapidly expanding nation in Southeast Asia.

In Malaysia, roughly 50–60% of the population can communicate in some capacity in English.

Although it is less common in rural areas and along the nation’s east coast, English is commonly spoken in Kuala Lumpur and other major cities.

In addition, about half of Malaysians can speak in English on some level, albeit this statistic dates from the early 2000s and is rather out of date.

In an effort to develop the skills and possibilities of next generations, the Malaysian government has now made English a prerequisite in schools.

4. Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong is without doubt one of the Asian countries that speak English.

The small city and Chinese administrative region is Asia’s and the whole world’s economic superpower. It is hardly surprising that Hong Kong had a middling EPI score of 55.63% given its history as a British colony.

It is now ranked 33 out of 100 nations, down from its position of number 30 in 2018.

The educational system in Hong Kong was heavily influenced by that in the United Kingdom. Although Cantonese is the primary language of teaching, English is often utilized for written assignments.

Hong Kong women speak English more fluently than women in other Asian nations, at 55.91%. Yet at 55.20%, men are not far behind.

Up until recently, Hong Kong was an unrecognized British colony; in 1997, China took full control of the territory.

Just 46% of the people of Hong Kong can speak in English, despite the fact that it was formerly a British colony. Moreover, English is a language that is widely spoken in Hong Kong.

English is also one of the main languages. In Hong Kong, everyone speaks English in the government, courts, restaurants, shops, and other establishments. Several schools are also English-speaking establishments.

5. South Korea

A highly developed nation, South Korea is ranked as the second-best place in the world to raise children by the UN.

A lot of Sout Koreans nowadays are studying English either through their local schools or abroad.

South Korea is the Asian nation with the sixth-highest level of English proficiency because the people place a high value on education. It is ranked 37th out of 100 countries in the globe, according to the rankings.

South Korea has a moderate level of English language proficiency, as indicated by its EPI score of 55.04. English is spoken by 55.91% more women than men (54.07%).

Seoul, the nation’s capital, has the highest concentration of English speakers, followed by Gyeongsangnam-do and Chungcheongnam-do.

More than 10 million people visit South Korea each year, including more than 500,000 Americans, making it another popular tourist destination in the far east.

Also, although English is not a language that is widely spoken across South Korea, you will have a better chance there in Seoul because it has more English speakers in the major tourist areas.

Seoul is expected to get a large number of English-speaking tourists, which is advantageous given that Seoul is home to the majority of English speakers.

Also, staff members at all the main hotels as well as some younger people you run across on the street will be fluent in English.

Like the Japanese, some South Koreans feel afraid when approached and asked to speak English.

6. India

It should not be surprising that English is spoken in India given that it was a British colony for many years, but how common is English there?

Around half of its 1.3 billion inhabitants are thought to be able to speak English making it one of the Asian countries that speak English.

English is now also employed in commerce, administration, and higher education, making it a supplementary official language of the nation.

An EPI score of 55.49%, which denotes a decent understanding of the English language, demonstrates this competency. India now ranks 34th out of 100 countries and fifth in Asia for English usage.

Indian women do better while speaking the English vernacular, similar to Hong Kong. They received a 56.93% rating as opposed to the men’s 55.10%.

Major cities like Bangalore, Pune, Madras, and others have a high English speaking population, while Hindi and other regional languages are more prevalent in rural and northern areas, where English is less widely spoken.

In India, though, there are still a lot of people who speak English.

In truth, given the low number of people who are proficient in English, and given the size of India’s population, which is now well over a billion people, India and the UK both have around the same number of English speakers.

12 Asian Countries That Speak English
Flag of India. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

7. Mainland China

China, which has a population of 1.42 billion, has the eighth-best English proficiency in Asia. Although while Mandarin is still the most common language in the nation, the Chinese educational system has improved, giving students greater possibilities to study English.

With an EPI score of 53.44 percent, China is ranked 40th out of 100 nations. Because the country’s proficiency rate in English was considered poor from 2011 to 2018, the Chinese people’s competence has significantly increased over time.

English proficiency rates among Chinese men and women are 53.41% and 53.47%, respectively, which is nearly equal.

More than 400 million people in contemporary China—nearly one-third of the population—are studying English.

Throughout the past several decades, there has been a significant change in the significance of English in China.

This change led to English replacing Russia as the dominant language.

The official policy of the Chinese government in the national educational system has led to a steady increase in the significance of English.

Due to English’s strong official status and the government’s promotion of the language, many Chinese, especially Chinese parents, are self-assured.

Parents in China regard their children highly because of the one-child rule.

As a consequence, parents will use every effort to give their kids the best learning resources imaginable.

8. Macau, China

Macau has 504 band ranks for competence in the EF EPI (Education First’s English Proficiency Index). It currently has 57 spots over the world.

Just like the nearby Hong Kong, Macau is also one of the Asian countries that speak English. 

The English proficiency levels in Macau range from intermediate to advanced. It is a country in Asia. In the country and region rankings of the EF EPI, English is ranked somewhat lower. English proficiency has decreased by 1 during the past year.

The majority of locals (85.7%) speak Cantonese. By 3.2%, more than 40% of people can communicate at home in basic Mandarin. 1.6 and 0.6 percent of the population respectively speak English and Portuguese as their first language. English is frequently taught to people as a second language.

English is spoken by around 1.5% of the population of Macau, with the remainder speaking various dialects of Mandarin. The likelihood of speaking English is higher among those engaged in commerce, business, and tourism.

English is a common language used in business communications at many cafes and retail malls. English has little institutional relevance in Macau.

Yet, the number of English speakers in the area is increasing. English is widely spoken, especially in popular tourist destinations and casino resorts.

The usage of the English language, which is among the most widely spoken languages in the world, is not institutionalized in Macau, despite the fact that it is becoming more widely utilized in many facets of society and inside government institutions.

The fact that many people communicate with and conduct business with government authorities in English is likewise not surprising.

Furthermore, while the availability of government information in English suggests that the content is of a higher caliber or that the information is delivered in a more professional manner, it does not mean that the information itself is superior.

Additionally, like in many other countries, Macau has a very uneven distribution of government publications in both English and their official languages.

9. Nepal

An English dialect in Nepal is called Nepalese English. The majority of people in Nepal speak English, especially in Kathmandu. Nepal has 123 or so native languages.

There are many Nepalese who use English as a second or foreign language, therefore Nepal’s many other languages have undoubtedly had an influence on English. With that, Nepal is considered as one of the Asian countries that speak English.

Although English is the main commercial language in Nepal, Nepali is the country’s official language. Nepal, the birthplace of contemporary English education.

The English language has permeated every element of Nepalese life and is now an essential part of it.

Educational institutions concur that English has expanded in Nepal thanks to its distinctive characteristics. There is no clear colonial history of the English language in Nepal. Nepal is ranked ninth in Asia by the EF EPI (Education First’s English Proficiency Index).

More than any other area, Asia has the most constant level of English proficiency. English proficiency has somewhat increased in the Nepal region. Over the previous 12 months, it rose by 12 points.

10. Pakistan

Fewer than 8% of Pakistanis identify as first language English speakers. Yet, it is a second language for more than 49% of the population. The third-largest English-speaking population in the world resides there.

These are reasons enough to consider the country as one of the Asian countries that speak English. 

English is one of Pakistan’s official languages, along with Urdu. In fact, English is a second language in Pakistan.

Pakistan has important institutes for education. Besides, the language of technology and global commerce. The language of national elite communication is English.

There are different levels of skill among those who speak English as their first language. Pakistanis think that speaking English makes it easier to get decent employment.

In addition to being taught to students in schools and colleges, it is still a crucial tool for businesspeople to use when communicating with both their international clients and the numerous enterprises throughout the world. There are several businesses that provide English language improvement classes.

General Pervez Musharraf, a former president of Pakistan and the host of Pakistani television’s “Literary Club,” is credited with saying: “Pakistan has accomplished a great deal despite insufficient resources, and we will accomplish more if we learn to optimize our constrained potential.”

12 Asian Countries That Speak English
Flag of Pakistan. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

11. Vietnam

Vietnam is one of the Asian countries that speak English. The country is a unique, alluring, and affordable tourist destination with many benefits and drawbacks, including many scams and ripoffs.

Southeast Asian nation of Vietnam is the one on the Indochina Peninsula that faces east. Vietnamese folks solely know how to speak English.

Moreover, it’s estimated that around 50% of Vietnamese people can speak and understand English, and many of them live in tourist-heavy regions.

So, visitors to Vietnam who are visiting the typical tourist locations should feel comfortable utilizing English.

12. Taiwan

Taiwan is regarded as one of Asia’s most highly developed nations in terms of both education and human development. This is so because Taiwanese culture adheres to a Confucian paradigm in which education is given top emphasis.

The East Asian state does well across the board in terms of education, which accounts for its EPI score of 54.18%, which places it as Asia’s seventh-best English-speaking nation. This represents a significant improvement, considering Taiwan’s proficiency index was low in 2018.

Taipei, the country’s capital, has the most English-speaking residents. With proficiency scores of 54.29% and 54.11%, respectively, men and women are practically on equal footing. It is now one of the Asian countries that speak English.

Taiwan is a distinctive East Asian nation renowned for its strong economy, skilled workforce, tropical climate, delectable cuisine, and tolerant populace. In Taiwan, English is the language that is most extensively used.

There are an increasing number of native English speakers in the nation as it becomes the undisputed language of international commerce.

English is also a commonly used foreign language, and numerous significant private institutions provide English instruction.

English is a subject that must be covered once students start basic school. English is a subject that all students in Taiwan must take.

Also, since 2018, Taiwan’s Ministry of Education has been attempting to make English the nation’s official tongue.

Final Thoughts

In Asia, there aren’t many native English speakers, but a sizable fraction of the population speaks English as a second or third language. Financial planners would usually recommend Asian countries that speak English if you are thinking of investing in Asia for easier communication when having a transaction.

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Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 760.2 million answer views on Quora.com, a widely sold book on Amazon, and a contributor on Forbes.

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