English language education in Colombia is producing dire results, despite programs to encourage Spanish-English bilingualism, newspaper El Tiempo reported Tuesday.
According to the newspaper, the Ministry of Education in conjunction with education evaluation program Saber 11, has published figures showing that despite a 2004 strategy to encourage national bilingualism in the country, only 8% of 11th graders in Colombia speak even intermediate English.
Furthermore, of 13,324 English teachers evaluated as part of the study, only 25% achieved intermediate proficiency in English while only 6% demonstrated a better than intermediate command of the language.
A Ministry of Education spokesperson told El Tiempo that these figures present a significant challenge to the government, which had hoped that “100% of English teachers would be able to demonstrate intermediate proficiency in English”. The latest figures in fact also suggest that the standard of English tuition in Colombia may have even deteriorated further in the last few years.
The figures have resulted in Colombia being ranked 41 out of 44 countries in the English proficiency index, an assessment created to establish a standardized model for measuring the standard of English by country. The index referred to data obtained in four online tests that measured the proficiency in English of 2,368.730 people, between 2007 and 2009.
Latin American nations generally performed poorly in the index, whereas European countries such as Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands performed best. The study also showed that countries who performed poorly in the English proficiency index also tend to collaborate less in the field of international research projects.