18 Aug

English language proficiency in the Caucasus

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I’m working on a project right now looking at the relationship between English language proficiency and Internet use in the Caucasus.

Although wandering around Yerevan, Baku, or Tbilisi might tell you something different, English language proficiency in these countries is actually quite low.

Between 1-4% of the population considers themselves “advanced” in the English language and two-thirds to three-quarters have no proficiency whatsoever.

And despite conventional wisdom, it looks like there hasn’t been much growth in English proficiency since Caucasus Barometer started measuring it in 2007. And in Azerbaijan it seems to have gone down a little bit (out migration?).

What are the demographic characteristics that predict English language proficiency?

First, one’s education level (standardized beta .30) is the stronger predictor of English language proficiency.

Next is one’s urbanness. The more urban you are (capital, regional city, rural area), the more likely you are to know English (standardized beta .15).

Then one’s material deprivation (which means wealth/poverty). The wealthier you are, the more likely you are to know English (standardized beta .13).

Finally, gender matters. Women are more likely to know English (there is a lot of research on this and isn’t surprising) (standardized beta .07).

Age didn’t matter at all.