There is estimated to be over one billion learners of English worldwide, and two billion – about a quarter of the world’s population who speak English.[i] As many as 85% of multi-nationals use English in business and 79% of international HR directors consider English proficiency when recruiting.[ii] Even though today English proficiency is measured using certain scales, there is not yet a standardized scale for measuring English proficiency that is used worldwide.

Pearson, a London-based educational services provider, has launched “the world’s first truly global English language standard” – the Global Scale of English (GSE).[iii] Completed after 25 years of work with leading academics, the GSE not only measures how much English a person knows, but also measures progress.

What is the GSE? What Does it Do?

The GSE is a global English language proficiency scale that measures English proficiency in accurate, practical terms, and not just in basic, intermediate and advanced levels. With the GSE, a student learning English can test his or her proficiency through numeric scale from 10-90 – where a score of, say, 29 means that the student is proficient enough to order common items from a menu at a restaurant.[iv] A higher score of 62 means that the student can write a review of a book or a film with ease.[iv] A measuring system like this connects learning with practical life, thereby providing the right learning path to the learner.

Notable educational institutions and organizations use the GSE. Among them are the British Council (The English Effect Report), and LinkedIn (LinkedIn research for Pearson English, May 2014).

The Making of the GSE

Hailed as “a new solution that’s off the scale”, the GSE has been tested on over 10,000 students in 130 countries.[iv] The uniqueness of the GSE is that it not only measures English proficiency, but also helps learners to keep their learning targeted. Towards that end, the GSE ecosystem is made of the following four parts –

  1. The scale (from 10 to 90)
  2. Learning objectives (4 sets tailored to specific needs)
  3. Course materials
  4. Assessment

Rated and worked on by thousands of teachers from over 50 countries, the GSE learning objectives are designed to help a learner know exactly what s/he can do to gain English proficiency. Unlike just a scale that informs you of where you stand, the GSE ecosystem allows you to know what you need to do and how. The GSE objectives access the GSE for reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Open Access for Customization

Pearson has made the GSE learning objectives an open access resource for schools, teachers and learners worldwide. Anybody can use them to create their own course or syllabus to be taught in classrooms or used for self-learning. The four sets of learning objectives are designed for learners of different levels –

  1. Learners of Professional English
  2. Learners of Academic English
  3. Young Learners
  4. General Adult Learners

The GSE is aligned with other English proficiency scales such as the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), and also tests such as IELTS and TOEFL.

The Need for GSE

With one in every four person speaking English,[i] the need for a global standard of English had long been overdue. With businesses, individuals, and organizations using English for personal and business communication worldwide, having a standardized measure of English proficiency would help in recruitment, assessment, learning and more.

In a research carried out by LinkedIn for Pearson of C-suite and HR directors of multinational companies in China, Germany, Brazil, Mexico and the UK, LinkedIn found these results:

  • 83% of respondents said that a standardized measure of English proficiency would be useful in the recruitment process
  • 72% of the HR industry feels that there is currently no fair/common standard of English assessment
  • Nearly 70% of employers assess an employee’s proficiency in English
  • 80% of global businesses agree that individuals who speak good English are more likely to succeed in their profession
  • 90% of global businesses agree that an employee’s ability to speak English benefits their business

With advancement of technology and increase in interactions between people of diverse cultures than ever before, a standardized measure for English proficiency will assist millions of English learners worldwide. With Pearson’s launch of the Global Scale of English, a standardized measure of English proficiency is finally here.