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Writing around the world

Business English Index

A company called GlobalEnglish runs an annual survey to produce the Business English Index (BEI), ranking countries on a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being native speaker-like ability and 1 being a very elementary level). They claim that a score of at least 4 is required to be able to conduct basic business tasks in English. Surprisingly, even in the US, "global workers" (those who regularly work together, whether virtually or really, with those in other countries) only scored 5.09 - due perhaps to the fact that one in five workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics is foreign-born.

Language proficiency

Just because someone is a native speaker or has near-native speaker ability in a language does not necessarily mean that they will be easy to understand; indeed, the opposite can be true. Do not make the mistake of stereotyping and assuming that anyone from Brazil, for example (which scored an average of 2.95 on the BEI) will only be able to understand simple expressions in English. Remember, too, as we noted above: when you are dealing with someone from a country where you expect to encounter native speakers of English, this will not always be the case!

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