Complex Made Simple

Pearson launches world’s first global standard of English in Arab region

Two billion people worldwide claim to speak English , 85% of multi-nationals use English as their language of business and 79% of international HR directors look for English proficiency when recruiting . And yet until today, there has never been a globally recognised standard in English – no single way of recognising and quantifying the level of an individual’s English.

Today, Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, unveils the Global Scale of English (GSE) – the world’s first truly global standard for scoring English language proficiency. In development for 25 years and tested on over 10,000 students in 130 countries – including Gulf countries, the GSE will transform how English is assessed, taught and scored in the Arab region, and around the world. Developed by Pearson English, a division of Pearson, it aims to provide one precise, numeric, universal scale for businesses, governments and academic institutions, as well as for the one billion plus people estimated to be learning English worldwide.

Why is the GSE so important for the Arab World?
The launch of the GSE will have a positive impact in the Arab region, where millions of students learn English in the hope of improving their future prospects. English is a valuable tool in a young person’s ability to secure rewarding employment and enjoy career advancement, evidenced by the region’s large number of job advertisements stipulating English proficiency as a minimum requirement. For some time, Arab governments have recognised the value of making English a compulsory subject in schools, and English is increasingly becoming the medium of instruction in many of the region’s leading universities – it is the norm for many first year students in universities and vocational colleges to undertake a compulsory English course. The proliferation of private English providers in major centres such as Dubai and Riyadh is a further sign that English is an essential skill demanded by employers, and job applicants without English competency are severely disadvantaged in their search for work.

English is now firmly established as the international language of business. As Arab countries become more connected to the international economy through trade and other business links it is essential that the region’s workers have the English skills necessary to perform in this global environment. The Arab World’s future economic achievements will therefore be very much tied to the uptake of English amongst citizens of the region.

Karim Daoud, Managing Director of Pearson’s Middle East Hub, says of the effect of the GSE in the region:
“We know that embedding English language skills in our young people is critical not only to their future well-being, but to the development and growth of our region’s economies. The GSE will play an important role in encouraging strong English language skills amongst the population. For the first time, the GSE provides an easily accessible, objective standard by which individuals, employers, recruiters, governments and education providers in the Arab World can determine how well someone can use English, in very specific circumstances. Importantly, the GSE will allow the millions of English language students in the Arab region (and their parents, educators or employers) to determine the effectiveness of their English learning, in a very clear and detailed way”.

What is the GSE, exactly?
The GSE means English language proficiency no longer needs to be measured in vague terms like basic, intermediate or advanced. It will enable English learners to accurately score and communicate their English language skills and progress on a granular, numeric scale from 10-90 providing a far more precise measurement of the learner’s ability than any existing methods which tend to categorise in broad bands. It is rooted in real life so that learners can clearly see what they can achieve at every level, for example, if you score 29 on the scale, you are able to identify and order very common food and drink from a menu; at 62, you can write a structured review of a film, book or play; at 74 you can extract the main points from news items with opinions, arguments and discussion.*

Already trialled by some of the world’s leading educational institutions , for learners the GSE will provide the answers to the questions “how good is my English?”, “am I progressing?” and “what do I need to do next?”

Why is there a need?

There are over 50 countries around the world that use English as an official language – that’s around a quarter of the world, and yet none of these countries have a consistent standard. Leading global businesses and recruiters such as Google , Electrolux, and Holiday Inn agree there is a clear need for a better understanding of English proficiency for employees and potential recruits.

Research carried out by LinkedIn for Pearson , amongst C-suite and HR directors of multi-national companies in Brazil, China, Germany, Indonesia, Mexico and the UK revealed:
? 83% of global C-suite and HR Directors agreed that a standardised measure of English proficiency would be useful in the recruitment process
? 72% of the HR industry feels there is currently no fair/common standard of English assessment. Chinese respondents are most likely to think this and find difficulty in administrating because of it
? Nearly 70% of employers are currently assessing an employee’s proficiency in English
? Respondents from Mexico, Brazil and Indonesia most strongly expressed a need for a global standard and are currently using a mix of TOEFL, TOEIC to assess English. German respondents are more likely to assess English proficiency with an English speaking interview
? 80% of global businesses agree that individuals who are able to speak good English are more likely to succeed in their business and 90% agree that it benefits their business if employees speak English

Bhavneet Singh, President of Pearson English, says of the launch:
“The world needs all its diversity of voices, cultures and languages, but with more of us talking to each other than ever before – via social media, in multi-national businesses or on our worldwide travels – increasingly the world is choosing to communicate in English. That is why there is a well overdue need for a global standard of English. We have been working with businesses, institutions and learners in over 130 countries and they have told us that there is a need for a granular, numeric, universal scale – and we believe after 25 years of work with leading academics we have it – in the Global Scale of English.”

How can I find out more?
Visit for more information on the Global Scale of English or

For further information, please contact:
Virtue PR & Marketing Communications
P.O Box: 191931
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Tel: 00971 4 4508835
Email: [email protected]