Mexico's Plan to Achieve 100% English Proficiency
Mexico’s education system has seen expansive enrollment growth over the past couple of decades. Over time, the government's efforts to reform the education system has increasingly included preparing Mexican youth to be bilingual. Yet, despite these efforts, Mexico still lags behind in English and is ranked 43rd globally for English skills according to the Education First’s English Proficiency Index.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Public Education presented its “master plan” to achieve 100% English proficiency among Mexican children over the next twenty years. The Education Partners Associate, Mariana Franco, attended the event and noted, “The focus on teacher colleges will address the problem at the root, preparing a pathway for teacher success”. The plan focuses on training teachers preparing at the teacher colleges (Escuela Normal) and requiring all teachers to master English language skills by the time they start teaching. In the first phase, 1,000 vacancies have been created for English teachers.
A 2015 study by the British Council – English in Mexico: An examination of policy, perceptions and influencing factors – found that the size of the English language learning market in the country is approximately 23.9 million people, including every level and type of study from public schools to private institutions to self-access channels. This is equivalent to about 21% of the Mexican population. In the survey, 51% of English learners said they had learned English because it was mandatory in secondary school, 45% to improve their employment prospects, and 43% said they needed to acquire English as a skill for university.
It is evident from the survey that students value English skills and that a lack of interest is not the primary reason for poor English skills, but the lack of access to quality English teachers. This is reflected in the Ministry of Public Education's new plan that identifies English proficiency as necessary for national growth, and a skill necessary for Mexico to further engage in the globalized economy.