The Relationship Between English Language Proficiency And Academic Performance of University Students – Should Academic Institutions Really be Concerned?

Pauline Ghenghesh


This paper aims to investigate if there is a relationship between English language proficiency and the overall academic performance of Preparatory Year students in three faculties: Engineering, Business (including Business Administration, Economics and Political Science) and Informatics and Computer Science. Data was obtained from the Student Record System of 566 students and three sets of statistical analysis were performed. The results indicated that there is a significant but moderate positive relation between the students’ proficiency in English and their overall academic success. Specifically, the higher the English proficiency of students on entry to the university, the better they performed in their degree area courses as well as in their English levels.



Proficiency; performance; language; instruction; competence

Full Text:



Abbad, A. (1988). An Analysis of Communicative Competence Features in English Language Texts in Yemen Arab Republic. PhD Dissertation, University of IIIinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Aina, J. K., Ogundele, A. G., & Olanipekun, S. S. (2013). Students’ proficiency in English language relationship with academic performance in science and technical education. American Journal of Educational Research, 1(9), 355-358.

AlHaddad, S. K., Mohamed, M., & Al Habshi, S. M. (2004). An exploratory study on English language proficiency and academic performance in the context of globalization of accounting education. Journal of Financial Reporting and Accounting 2(1), 55-71.

Barthe, A. (2012). Campus review: Strewth! Institutions must mind students’ language. Times Higher Education, June issue.

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR). (2009). Good Practice Principles for English language proficiency for international students in Australian universities. Canberra, Australia.

Dooey, P. (1999). An investigation into the predictive validity of the IELTS Test as an indicator of future academic success. In K. Martin, N. Stanley, & N. Davison (eds.), Teaching in the Disciplines/Learning in Context. Proceedings of the 8th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, University of Western Australia, pp.114-118.

Fakeye, D. (2014). English language proficiency as a predictor of academic achievement among EFL students in Nigeria. Journal of Education and Practice 5(9), 38-41.

Feast, V. (2002). The impact of JELTS scores on performance at university. International Education Journal 3(4), 70-85.

Hill, K., Storch, N., & Lynch, B. 1999. A Comparison of IELTS and TOEFL as predictors of academic success. English Language Testing System Research Reports 2, 52-63.

Jekayinfa, A. A. (1991). Competence in the language of instruction as a predictor of performance in secondary school history.Ilorin Journal of Education 11, 103-112.

Kong, J., Powers, S., Starr, L., & Williams, N. (2012). Connecting English language learning and academic performance: A Prediction Study of the American Educational Research Association. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Kumar, P. (2014). Effect of proficiency in English language on academic performance of post graduate management students of Marathwada region (Maharashtra), India. IOSR Journal of Business and Management 16(5), 2319-7668.

Maleki, A., & Zangani, E. (2007). A survey on the relationship between English language proficiency and the academic achievement of Iranian EFL students. Asian EFL Journal, 9(1), 86-96.

Mukattash, L. (1983). The problem of difficulty in foreign language learning. In E. Dahiyat, & M. Ibrahim (eds.), The First Conference on the Problems of Teaching English Language and Literature at Arab Universities. University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan.

Murray, N. L. (2010). Conceptualising the English language needs of first year university students. International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education 1(1), 55-64.

Phillipson, R. (1992). Linguistic Imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Roche, T., & Harrington, M. (2013). Recognition vocabulary knowledge as a predictor of academic performance in an English as a foreign language setting. Language Testing in Asia 3(12). http://dx.doi:10.1186/2229-0443-3-12.

Sadeghi, B., Kashanian, N. M., Maleki, A., & Haghdoost, A. (2013). English language proficiency as a predictor of academic achievement among medical students in Iran. Theory and Practice in Language Studies 3(12), 2315-2321.

Sahragard, R., Baharloo, A., & Soozandehfar, S. M. A. (2011). A closer look at the relationship between academic achievement and language proficiency among Iranian EFL students. Theory and Practice in Language Studies 1(12), 1740-1748.

Sahragard, R., & Baharloo, A. (2009). Fear of success, imposter phenomenon, academic achievement, and language proficiency among some Iranian EFL learners: a correlational study. Iranian EFL Journal Quarterly 3(1), 6-35.

Sivaramana, I., Al Balushib, A., & Rao, D. H. (2014). Understanding Omani students’ (University) English language problems. International Journal of Sciences: Basic and Applied Research (IJSBAR) 13(1), 28-35.

Steele, C. 2001. "Secrets of the SAT." Frontline" Interview in 2001 with Steele. (Accessed July 2014).

Study Connect International. 2014. English language requirements for UK University admission and Student Visa. english-language-requirements-for-university-admission-and-student-visa/ (Accessed August 2014).

Suleiman, S. (1983). Teaching English to Arab students at the university level. In E. Dahiyat, & M. Ibrahim (eds.), First Conference on the Problems of Teaching English Language and Literature at Arab Universities. University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan.

Wilkinson, L., & Silliman, E. (2008). Academic language proficiency and literacy instruction in urban settings. In L. Wilkinson, L. Morrow, & V. Chou (eds.), Improving Literacy Achievement in Urban Schools. Critical Elements in Teacher Preparation, Newark, DL: International Reading Association.

Wilson, J., & Komba, S. C. (2012). The Link between English language proficiency and academic performance: A pedagogical perspective in Tanzanian secondary schools. World Journal of English Language 2(4). http://dx.doi:10.5430/wjel.v2n4p1.

Win, R. & Miller, P. W. (2004). The Effects of Individual and School Factors on University Students’ Academic Performance. CLMR Discussion Paper Series 04/4. The Centre for Labour Market Research, University of Western Australia, Crawley WA.

Xu, M. (1991).The impact of English-language proficiency on international graduate students' perceived academic difficulty. Research in Higher Education 32(5), 557-570.

Zughoul, M. (1983). The unbalanced program of the English department in the Arab world. In E. Dihayat, & M. Ibrahim (eds.), First Conference on the Problems of Teaching English Language and Literature at Arab Universities. University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.