ENGLISH IN THE PHILIPPINES: TAGLISH, CALL CENTERS AND CHEAP ENGLISH SCHOOLS

ENGLISH IN THE PHILIPPINES

The Philippines is the third largest English-speaking nation in the world after India and the United States, or so it is claimed. Roughly two-thirds of the Philippines population of 107 million have some degree of fluency in English. The Philippines has about 40 million more people than the United Kingdom. Filipinos were introduced to the English language in 1762 by British invaders, not Americans. The American made it a language of education and commerce when they occupied the Philippines from 1898 to 1941.

English is taught in the schools and is the primary language of many university courses. It is used in newspapers and is featured on most FM radio stations and is regarded as the language of business, pop culture and politics. Not many people speak Spanish. It as largely only spoken by the elite during the 300 years of Spanish rule and was never widely spoken by the generally population. . English has served as a lingua franca to for the islanders and their different languages. But Filipino English is quite different from American and British English. It has many of its own words and syntax. Some times Filipino accents make it difficult for non-Filipinos to understand Filipino English.

In a 2006 Social Weather Stations survey, 65 percent of the respondents in the Philippines said they have the ability to understand spoken and written English, with 48 percent stating that they can write English, but only 32 percent reporting that they speak the language." [Source: Ma. Lourdes S. Bautista and Kingsley Bolton, Philippine English: Linguistic and Literary Perspectives. Hong Kong University Press, 2009)

Since only 55 percent of the residents of the Philippines speak Filipino fluently, English is used in colleges, universities, the courts, and the government. "Taglish," a mixture of Filipino and English, is becoming a standard language. Filipino English includes many Australian and British terms. It is a formal language that includes words no longer commonly used in American English. The dependence on English causes concern, but since Filipino does not have words for scientific or technological terms, English is likely to remain in common use. [Source: everyculture.com]

The Philippines’s English-speaking work force give it a competitive edge. In 2012 Forbes reported: The “Philippines has taken over India as a hub for call centers. Their English is better. The islands attained a score above 7 [on a scale of 1 to 10], putting them within range of a high proficiency that indicates an ability to lead business discussions and perform complex tasks." [Source: Kenneth Rapoza, "Countries With the Best Business English." Forbes, April 4, 2012]

See Education, See Justice System.

Debate Over English in the Philippines

There is debate in the Philippines over whether or not the dominance of English has been healthy or harmful A Filipino politician told Smithsonian magazine. English has made “us think and express ourselves in a language other than our own.” It “stunted our development. It is one reason we are still struggling as a nation.” A former Philippines ambassador to the United States said, “English was the means through which we internalized the idea of constitutional government and democratic rights. How would you translate ‘due process of law’ in Tagalog?” In some cases, Filipinos who prefer to speak in English are regarded as unpatriotic even though such influential leaders as Jose Rizal and Nonoy Aquino were often more comfortable speaking in English than Tagalog.

Some have argued that English was essential to economic progress because it opened the Philippines to communication with the rest of the world, facilitated foreign commerce, and made Filipinos desirable employees for international firms both in the Philippines and abroad. Despite census reports that nearly 65 percent of the populace claimed some understanding of English, as of the early 1990s competence in English appeared to have deteriorated. Groups also debated whether "Filipinization" and the resulting shifting of the language toward "Taglish" (a mixture of Tagalog and English) had made the language less useful as a medium of international communication. Major newspapers in the early 1990s, however, were in English, English language movies were popular, and English was often used in advertisements. [Source: Library of Congress *]

Successful Filipinos were likely to continue to be competent in Pilipino and English. Speakers of another regional language would most likely continue to use that language at home, Pilipino in ordinary conversation in the cities, and English for commerce, government, and international relations. Both Pilipino, gaining use in the media, and English continued in the 1990s to be the languages of education. *

Taglish and Filipino English

Taglish, a mix of Tagalog and English, is widely used by politicians and lawyers. The linguist Roger M. Thompson wrote: “Many speakers in the Philippines use a dialectal mixture of English and Tagalog (or Filipino) that's called Taglish. "Taglish is the creation of educated Filipinos. . . . Mixing Tagalog and English is so widespread in Metro Manila that it is hard to say what the home language is since educated Manilans learn English as a second language in the home. In essence, Taglish has become Filipino street English.” [Source:Roger M. Thompson, “Filipino English and Taglish: Language Switching from Multiple Perspectives”]

Many English-speaking Asian countries, such as the Philippines, Singapore and India have developed their own English words and expressions. In the Philippines Taglish refers to a mix of Tagalong and English and carabao English refers to English spoken in the countryside . The Filipino poet Gemino Abad once said, “The English language is now is now ours. We have colonized it.

Filipino-English words include bedspacer, carnapper Imeldific (grandiose like Imelda Marcos), presidentiable (perspective presidential candidate), green joke (sex-based humor), and American time (punctual). The word “gimmick” is used by young people to describe something that is fun or exciting. "Dirty kitchen" refers to a second kitchen where messy cooking is done, leaving the main kitchen for special occasions. “ Salvage” in the Philippines means to kill. In other Asian nations it means to save.

Filipino English has kept some words that have died out in Britain and the United States such as solon (elected politician) and viand (food). Filipinos have also constructed words from Spanish. Aggrupatuon is a Philippine word of Spanish derivation that means a group, especially a political group.

Kate McGeown of the BBC wrote: “English signs often have the wrong spellings and the way English words are used is sometimes uniquely Filipino, with confusing and occasionally unintentionally amusing results. Taglish spelling: "Ice bloke" Ice block to ice bloke: The local Tagalog language can be mixed with English to create some unexpected outcomes One of the national newspapers used the headline "Police Clueless" for a story about the police officers not having any specific clues about a case.” [Source: Kate McGeown, BBC News, November 12, 2012 /~/]

Filipino English vs. American English

Walter Ang wrote in 8list, Yahoo News: While Filipinos generally regard American English conventions and rules as their frame of reference for “correct” English, who’s to say the way(s) we use English isn’t (also) correct? Here are 8 instances of Filipino English terms/usage that may elicit much gnashing of teeth and knotted eyebrows or knowing nods and flat out laughs. [Source: Walter Ang, 8list, Yahoo News, January 6, 2014 <>]

“1) Good morning Ma’amsir / Good morning. Pinoys have been heard saying “Good morning ma’amsir.” Unless you’re going for the androgynous look, it can be pretty annoying sometimes when you certainly know you look like the gender you’re supposed to be and then to have someone call you a ma’amsir. However, life is too short to constantly hate on this little quirk. After all, if you put yourself in the shoes of the person greeting you, you can well imagine that it’s no joke to work in the service industry. It can get pretty stressful when you’re up on your feet the whole day on the receiving end of instructions from stressed out (and sometimes rude) customers. What if we look at “ma’amsir” as a word generated out of a need for efficiency? What if we just look at ma’amsir as a quintessentially Pinoy way of expressing our world-famous courtesy and hospitality (and even gender-equality!)? Onli in da Pilipins! <>

“2) (Verb) already / Already (verb). Pinoys have been heard saying “I (verb in past tense) already.” Since we usually append “na” to Tagalog statements that denote actions done in the past, that may be where the “already” counterpart in English comes from. Just so you know, the “usual” way to say it is “I already (verb in past tense).” Perhaps you knew that already? 3) Home buddy / Homebody. Pinoys have been seen spelling “homebody” as “home buddy.” Perhaps it’s not surprising that one of the friendliest people in the world have ascribed a context of friendship into the term “homebody,” transforming it into “home buddy” and making it mean, ostensibly, “a friend who likes to hang out at home”? That said, homebody means “a person whose life and interests are centred on the home.” It may or may not be one of the characteristics of being an introvert. <>

“4) Last (date) / In (date). Pinoys have been heard saying “Last 2013.” (Or any other date in the past.) Usually, the “correct” way is to say “In (date),” and to use “last” only to refer to the most recent occurence. For example, when you say “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart,” it would mean you are referring to last year’s Christmas and not the one in 1982. Bonus: Pinoys also are used to saying “last last (date)” to mean “the (date) before last.” For example, “Last last Christmas” in other English-speaking regions would be said as “The Christmas before last,” or “The Christmas two years ago.” 5) Simplier or Simply-er / Simpler. Speaking of “simply,” Pinoys have been heard pronouncing “simpler” as “simplier.” If you’re having a fight with a pronunciation-Nazi, better not pronounce “simpler” incorrectly, or things could get uglier. <>

“6) Pull a chair / Pull up a chair. Pinoys have been heard saying “Pull a chair.” If you simply pull a chair, you could end up pulling it all over the place. If you add the word “up” after “pull,” it will mean to bring a chair close to where you are and to sit on it. 7) Nothing to worry / Nothing to worry about. Pinoys have been heard saying “Nakahanda na lahat. You have nothing to worry.” The line is usually with an “about” at the end, but if you’re in the Philippines and you forget the “about,” hey, no worries! 8) Stuck-up / Stuck. Pinoys have been heard saying “Na stuck-up yung gulong ng sasakyan sa putik.” Don’t let your eyebrows get stuck-up together (tee hee), but “stuck-up” means arrogant.” <>

English Education in the Philippines

Students have traditionally been taught English since the first grade. Early American teachers were called Thomasites after the name of the first military plane that brought them to the Philippines. They fanned out all over the archipelago, often living with local families, and taught students things like th Gettysburg Address and the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Since then English has been the primary classroom language in the Philippines.

In the old days, English was emphasized more in the schools. It was often the primary language of instruction and was often used even in rural and poor areas. The result was that even people in rural villages could speak it. In recent years there has been a drive to conduct more classes in Tagalog and local languages, with English being reduced to an elective. A few years ago it was decided that classes should be taught in the national language—Pilipino—rather than English. The result is that less people can speak English and more Filipinos can’t speak to each other,

History of Learning English in the Philippines

According to the Oxford Guide to World English: "English-medium education began in the Philippines in 1901 after the arrival of some 540 US teachers. English was made the language of education and as its use extended it became indigenized through the inclusion of vocabulary from local languages, the adaptation of English words to local needs, and modifications in pronunciation and grammar. English was also adopted for newspapers and magazines, the media, and literary writing." [Source: Tom McArthur, The Oxford Guide to World English, Oxford University Press, 2002)

Filipino Tibor Maricel wrote in his blog: “Apolinario Mabini, who is a nationalist, refused to kneel down to Americans and instead they moved him to exile to Guam. From there, he was influenced with a vision of freedom. Not only him, but most of our revolutionary leaders studied and lived in exile in English -Speaking Hongkong under Great Britain. They had acquired the educational concept using English as the medium of instruction. [Source:Tibor Maricel, maricelmar.wordpress. June 24, 2013 <<<]

“Chaplain W.D Mckinnon organized the first teaching force from the soldier volunteers of the occupying army. Then, the Public Elementary system was established by the Department of Education under the second Philippine commission by the organic act of 1901 prescribing English be taught and used as the medium of instruction for all schools. After that, President William Mckinley changed the policy through the secretary of war, Elihn Root, so that local languages were to be used for education as a medium of instruction together with English as the principal foreign language. However, two years later, they returned to the norms of using English as a medium of instruction. <<<

“Later on, Thomasites who are native English speakers from US came at the end of 1901 – First they were 500, then 1000, and then reached 2000. American teachers came by the end of Francis Burton Harrison’s Administration in 1921. After 20 years of the initial contigents, 9 percent are Filipinos, Filipino teachers. Filipinos learned English from Filipinos which is now called Philippine English. In 1918, after 10 years, census shows 47.3 percent of the population learned English and could also read and write in English. Amazing right? As you can see, American occupation had spread English the language within a 41 year span of time compared with 333 years of Spanish occupation, resulting in only 2 percent speaking in Spanish. <<<

“However, things changed after the destruction that came caused by the wrath of war. Most of the native English teachers and non-native English teachers died during the war. (O’Connor) Some of them lost their professions because they did not return to their classrooms when the war came to an end. Since the spoken language is learned by imitation by native speakers of the language, the lack of native speaker models has affected certain sounds as enunciated by English-speaking Filipinos today. Our English now is becoming vernacularized. The destruction of war was the start of the deterioration of our English proficiency.” <<<

How Proficient Are Filipinos in English?

In 2009, The Economist reported: “Once it claimed to have more English speakers than all but two other countries, and it has exported millions of them. But these days Filipinos are less boastful. Three decades of decline in the share of Filipinos who speak the language, and the deteriorating proficiency of those who can manage some English, have eroded one of the country's advantages in the global economy. [Source: The Economist, June 4, 2009 *^*]

“The government-approved textbooks they will study illustrate the problem. A passage in one for eight-year-olds reads: “The dog rolled on the floor so fast and fell on the ground. There he laid yelling louder than ever. The dog yelled on top of his voice.” A book for 11-year-olds advises, mysteriously: “Just remember this acronym—DOCSiShQACNMN—to make it easy for you to remember the order of adjectives in a series.” *^*

“Never mind the pupils, teachers have been flunking English for years. In 2004 only one in five teachers passed the English-proficiency test. The effect on pupils is plain to hear. Last year the country winced when the 17-year-old winner of the Miss Philippines World beauty contest failed spectacularly to answer in English the usual questions posed by judges in such events. Call-centres complain that they reject nine-tenths of otherwise qualified job applicants, mostly college graduates, because of their poor command of English. This is lowering the chances that the outsourcing industry will succeed in its effort to employ close to 1m people, account for 8.5 percent of GDP and have 10 percent of the world market by the end of 2010. *^*

“America, as the colonial power, brought English and universal public education to the Philippines a century ago. But English as a subject has suffered from lack of money, along with public education as a whole. Some Filipinos also blame the introduction in the 1970s of Filipino, an artificial national language, as the medium of instruction. The government is tackling the problem by throwing money at remedial English-language instruction for teachers and making greater use of English as the medium of instruction. It says these measures are working. A recent opinion poll suggests Filipinos believe their own ability to speak English is improving. Call-centre bosses are not convinced.” *^*

Poor English in the Philippines

According to humanbreeds.com: Many Filipino’s make so many mistakes with he/she… and a common conversation with my Filipino friends would go like that. Friend: I was talking to Anna today and she said that his husband is cheating on her Me: What? really? How did she find out? Friend: He came back early to find his husband in bed with another girl. It could get more confusing than this and it is usually random and somehow funny. If the story is longer than the story above, it can get more difficult to get the story straight with all the he/she him/her mistakes. According to my friends, the root cause of the he/she mistakes is the lack of distinction between male/female in the Tagalog language. [Source: humanbreeds.com, February 7, 2014]

Filipino Tibor Maricel wrote in his blog: “ International research and surveys such as one done by IBM show that Philippines’ Universities are producing not less than 500,000 English speaking graduates each year which is very important for the continuously growing BPO (business process outsourcing) industry in the country. [Source:Tibor Maricel, maricelmar.wordpress. June 24, 2013]

Yes, we can speak English, but what about our proficiency? Even though we watch too many English films, read textbooks in English and even teach in English, that doesn’t mean that our English proficiency is good. Andrew King of IDP Education‘s and country Director for the Philippines was disappointed in the IELTS of 2008 when we placed second with a score of 6.69. In addition, Lorelie Fajardo, the deputy Presidential spokesman, admitted that there’s a problem. The majority of elementary and secondary school teachers have average proficiency scores in English of 50 percent for elementary teachers and 67 percent for secondary teachers.

English is an official language and the language of instruction is English. So, what happened? After a long history in which Philippine English has had no native English speakers model, I have realized that the problem is not really the failure to correct our educational system, it is our Filipino attitude. There are a lot of Filipinos who are acrolects, who can speak nearly like native speakers. On one hand, for many, the American dream has ended. For some Filipinos, this history is very painful. Their nationalistic mentality towards English as a trace of American colonial influence is the reason why they are unsuccessful in learning the language. Our Filipino attitude has made the English proficiency of the Filipinos decreased and vernacularized because we seek to do away with it and stop learning English.

Exposure the Key to Learning English in the Philippines

Amy Chavez wrote in the Japan Times, “English was brought to the Philippines during the 1896-1946 American occupation and it still enjoys official status. This does not mean that everyone understands or speaks English, but it does mean that exposure to the language is so widespread that those who do speak it can communicate quite fluently. I was also impressed that people who had never stepped outside the Philippines were nevertheless fluent in English. [Source: Amy Chavez, Japan Times, December 27, 2013 \^/]

“How can a nation acquire a second language so proficiently despite some claims that as many as 27.8 percent of Filipino school-age children either don’t attend, or never finish, elementary school? It’s all in the approach to learning English. The Philippines not only teaches English in its schools but also provides its population with another tool crucial to language acquisition: exposure. \^/

“In all parts of the country, English signs abound, and they are not there for foreign tourists. “Don’t block the driveway,” say signs on the roads in Cebu. “House for sale,” informs a signboard in front of a dwelling in the countryside. Company logos, road signs and advertisements are in English. As a result, most Filipinos learn English both inside and outside the classroom. It is not just about teaching English in schools but learning it through life experience too. \^/

“When I stepped into a taxi in Manila, the driver was listening to a radio program that featured two pundits discussing a recent bus accident in both official languages. The discussion took place in Filipino, with the commentator repeating the arguments and conclusions in English. This not only encourages English acquisition; it also allows people like me, an English-only speaker, to understand the conversations and issues in the program. While the bus accident may have been newsworthy enough to make it into the mainstream English news, I never could have hoped to hear such in-depth analysis of the event from a local point of view in the way this radio program allowed me to. \^/

“I should mention that the commentator used natural English, not the slow, instructional English you often hear in Japan that is used specifically for teaching. Rather than being an English language-learning radio program, this was regular radio reporting in the Philippines. The country also presents national and world news in English on TV. These are not translations of Filipino-language news but news reported in English by Filipino anchors.” \^/

“The Philippines has significantly increased its foreign student enrollment: Top universities in the country teach all their classes in English. As a result, the Philippines is attracting foreign students from Iran, Libya, Brazil, Russia, China and yes, even Japan, to earn graduate and postgraduate degrees. The Philippines offers one more alternative for people who would normally look at much more expensive schools in the United States, Britain and Australia. \^/

Feeble Efforts to Improve English Education in the Philippines

In October 2013, American English reported: “Two of the 12 recommendations in relation to strengthening English fluency among Filipinos enumerated by Arangkada Philippines, an advocacy paper focused on promoting speedy solutions to economic growth and development, as a necessity in school and in business are: To advance bilingualism, undertake a vigorous public campaign to emphasize the importance of English competency to entering and existing workforce members. (Immediate action OP, DepEd, NEDA, and private sector) Recognize high schools and tertiary schools and students who score well on English tests. (Immediate action DepEd and private sector) Moreover, humanitarian organizations such as the USAID Philippines and Phil-Dutch Educational Scholarship, Inc. aim to improve English teaching methods, administer English language proficiency training in higher education, and aid the underprivileged in being more equipped and confident to work in English-speaking companies. [Source: American English, October 4, 2013, Posted in Business Communication School in Manila Philippines, Business English School in Makati Philippines, English School, English Tips]

The new K to 12 curriculum promises revised subjects for the first ten years and the last two years as added preparation time to polish their ability to communicate in time for college. All incoming college freshmen will also be required to pass the College Readiness Standards (CRS) by preparing two well-structured research papers (one in English, one in Filipino). However, these will only take effect in 2018. For now, students and teachers dealing with budget constraints can take advantage of complimentary English training programs as the initial step towards personal development. Students will be able to familiarize themselves with tried-and-tested tips and techniques in oral and written communication created by native English speakers. Teachers, on the other hand, are to be given the chance to enhance their knowledge and literacy in the English language in order to contribute to the much deserved change in the national education sector, or if they choose to teach in countries where Filipino teachers are being seriously considered, such as Vietnam and the United States. [Ibid]

In response to this, Jerl S. Rey posted: “In my own opinion, in order to increase the percentage of employment, English proficiency must mastered and updated too for all students and professional teachers in order to learn new techniques on how to easily facilitate and learn how to speak English, Second, align all the curriculum to the industries needed for every students after they academic life in order to have immediate employment. I believe that all companies have their initiatives such as to acquire a student immediately after graduation that is to say, Scholarships. Most of the state universities and private universities have their own “Eskolar ng Bayan”. Why not, these “Eskolar ng Bayan” be endorsement to the industries related to their course and field of interest? At the end of the day, employment in our country is as easy as self-serving and sustainable system. Through English Proficiency, even without a bachelor degree, can help increase employment also specially in call centers. When we read our news papers specially in classified ads, most of the vacancies are from call centers and their minimum requirements included is English proficient. Most of these Call centers, conduct English proficiency as supplemental needs for their functional competencies. Communication skills is as important for these kind of industry. [Source: Jerl S. Rey, August 18, 2014]

“I just arrived from Bicol and I heard that my niece complained about her teacher teaching them English language using bicol dialect. I asked her my sister if it is true. And my sister replied, it was mandated by CHED for the purpose of learning EASILY the English language. Now, I wonder. Why was our college professor taught us Latin Language using the Spanish medium and yet we learned many vocabularies. [Source: Jerl S. Rey, September 2, 2014]

Foreigners Flock to the Philippines to Study English

A study conducted by Global English Corp said the Philippines was the world’s best country in business English proficiency for 2012, even surpassing the US. Three Philippine universities - Ateneo De Manila University, University of the Philippines and De La Salle University - are among the world's 50 best in teaching English, according to the 2012 survey by London research and ratings firm Quacquarelli Symonds. [Source: Katrina Mennen A. Valdez, InterAksyon.com, November 27, 2012 /=\]

There are hundreds of private schools of varying kinds and quality that teahc English. A Filipino who teaches English to Korean, Taiwanese and Japanese nationals, said that foreigners prefer learning English in the Philippines for three reasons: 1) Philippine-based schools charge for as low as P20,000 a month, or less than a fifth of the fee charged in other countries, and up to P45,000 a student inclusive of board and lodging per month; 2) Foreign students prefer one-on-one sessions with the teacher, a scheme unavailable or too expensive in other countries; and 3) Philippine-based schools are being managed by the same nationality as that of the foreign student.

Foreigners who want to enroll in Philippine schools are required to get either the Special Study Permit (SSP) or a Student Visa. SSPs are granted to students who want to enroll on short-term courses that last for less than one year while student visas are for those who want to take up long-term or degree courses. [Source: Jonathan M. Hicap, Korea Times, September 13, 2009]

The Philippines: the World's Budget English Teacher

The Philippines is fast becoming the world's low-cost English language teacher. In recent years there has been a sharp increases in the number of overseas students coming to learn English or study in English-speaking universities.Kate McGeown of the BBC wrote: There is one key reason that they are switching to the Philippines” from the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Britain. “It's much cheaper. And in the competitive market for language students, it means the Philippines is attracting people from countries such as Iran, Libya, Brazil and Russia. "We have very competitive rates compared with other countries," says English teacher, Jesy King, citing her school's fees of $500 (£313) for a 60-hour class - about a third of the price of an equivalent course in the US or Canada. [Source: Kate McGeown, BBC News, November 12, 2012 /~/]

“Another major advantage is the accent. Filipinos speak with a clear American accent - partly because the Philippines was a US colony for five decades, and partly because so many people here have spent time working in call centres that cater to a US market. These centres train their staff to sound indistinguishable from Americans, so callers never realise that the person they're speaking to is on the other side of the world. Russian student at university in the Philippines Elizaveta is a Russian student taking courses taught in English in the Philippines - she says fees are a quarter of courses in Australia or Canada "I have a background in call centres, so I've learnt to adopt an American accent - it's one of the pre-requisites when you join," says Jesy King. /~/

“Her school, the International Language Academy of Manila, attracts students from all over the world. The majority are from Asia - especially Japan, Taiwan and Korea - but in the past few months she's also taught people from North Africa, South America and the Middle East. Student numbers are growing rapidly. According to the Philippine Immigration Bureau, more than 24,000 people have applied for a study permit this year - compared to fewer than 8,000 just four years ago. The government sees this sector as a golden opportunity for growth. "We're geared to accept more and more students," says Cristino Panlilio, the under-secretary for the Department of Trade and Industry. "I believe the country should come up with more marketing for this." /~/

“And it's not just English language students who are coming to the Philippines - there's also been a rapid increase in the number of foreigners applying for graduate and post-graduate courses in all kinds of fields. The main reasons that attract them are, again, the cost - and the fact that, in the country's top universities, all classes are held in English. In order to study at a university here, foreigners need a full student visa, and immigration records show that three times as many foreigners applied for one in 2011 than they did just three years before. Dr Alvin Culaba, the executive vice-president of De La Salle - one of the country's top universities - is confident that the level of teaching in his institution can compete with that found anywhere in the world. /~/

"Our programmes are very comparable, or sometimes even better, than in the US and Europe," he says De La Salle already has a lot of students from China and Japan, but there's recently been an increase in Europeans. Elizaveta Leghkaya, a Russian engineering student, is one of them. She looked at courses in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but the programme at De La Salle was a quarter of the price of the others. "Here it's much cheaper, and I'm really confident that the qualification I'll get is just the same," she says. /~/

“She had found other benefits of studying in the Philippines too. "It's a good experience, as it's a different style of life than I'd get in Europe. It's interesting to learn the culture. I like to travel here, and go to the beaches and museums." But studying in the Philippines isn't for the faint-hearted. Living here means coping with the bureaucracy and corruption, and if you're in Manila, the heavy pollution. And then there's the fact that many Filipinos speak a rather different language than the rest of the English-speaking world. Alot of people speak Taglish - a mix of English and the local language Tagalog - which is often difficult for foreigners to understand.” /~/

Koreans Flock to Philippines to Study English

In 2006, Reuters reported: “Ellie Sung and a friend are queuing at a Manila shopping mall to catch the film ''Mission Impossible 3'' for the second time. It's not that Sung is a Tom Cruise fanatic or finds the plot difficult to understand. ''I like to watch movies. It's for my English practice,'' she said. Sung, 28, is one of thousands of South Korean students at about 800 language schools in the Philippines who are trying to get the edge that translates into a good job, a higher salary or an acceptance letter from an elite university back home. [Source: Reuters June 8, 2006 ><]

“The importance placed on English in South Korea has driven high school students, graduates and unemployed degree holders to private language centres, or ''hagwon'' as they are known there. Those looking for a more intensive experience move to countries where English is a main language. The Philippines -- a former U.S. colony with a love of Hollywood movies, basketball and other icons of American culture -- is a close and relatively cheap choice. It is five hours by plane from Seoul and there are Korean communities in many cities. ><

“While the government puts the number of Koreans living in the Philippines at around 70,000, Dr. Hyun-Mo Park, president of the Filipino-Korean Cultural Foundation, sees it closer to 100,000. Last year, 524,000 Koreans visited for various reasons, including education, business and tourism. The tourism department expects 600,000 Korean visitors this year, growing to 800,000 by 2008 and 1 million by 2010. ><

“A big draw for South Korean students is cost. In the Philippines, they need 40,000 to 60,000 pesos (755 to 1,135 dollars) per month for tuition, room, board and entertainment. For the same fee or less than for group classes in Korea, they can enrol in one-on-one lessons. But standards vary widely. Bernard Lee, an administrator at the Jungchul Academy in Manila, said unauthorised schools had ''mushroomed'' in the capital and other big cities since the English-language trend among Koreans started in the mid-1990s. Lee estimated that only about one-quarter of the schools were registered with the government. ''In certain places, they're a dime a dozen,'' he said. Philippine law encourages foreign-owned firms catering to the domestic market to take on Filipino partners or be directed in part by Filipinos, so many hagwons choose not to register as a way of remaining fully Korean-owned. ''As long as you pick a good teacher, that's the most important thing,'' said Julie Park, 25, who studies English with a private tutor. For many South Koreans, immersion in the language is what they pay for with a ticket to Manila. ''Everyday I can practise English with almost everybody,'' Sung said. But recent studies show the number of Filipinos who speak and understand English competently has fallen as the debt-laden government struggles to find money for education. According to the European Chamber of Commerce, about 75 per cent of the 400,000 college graduates each year have ''substandard'' English skills. ><

“Shiena Jaco, a senior teacher at the Jabez International Education Center, says the findings are misleading because they do not reflect the lowering of English ability among Filipinos as much as the rising standards all over the world. ''In many places in the Philippines, people can actually speak English very well,'' Jaco said. ''Many of our students end up staying longer than they plan to. It's the norm.'' South Koreans are also less threatened by the insurgencies and crime that can deter tourists from visiting the Philippines, said former Trade Undersecretary Gregory Domingo. ''They have hundreds of guns pointed at their country every day, so warnings of things like kidnapping and extortion probably don't scare them as much,'' he said. For Park of the Filipino-Korean Cultural Foundation, the local welcome also counts. ''In other countries, racial discrimination is a big problem for Koreans but in the Philippines not so much,'' Park said. ''Filipinos are very hospitable people.'' ><

Number of Koreans Studying English in the Philippines Rises Further

In 2009, Jonathan M. Hicap wrote in the Korea Times, “The last five years saw the phenomenal rise of the Philippines as the prime source of English education for South Koreans. Whether they come to the Philippines to study English or sit in front of their computers at home in Seoul and learn the correct pronunciation of English words from a teacher in Manila, South Koreans are bent on learning English as a second language as part of the globalization plan implemented by the government. [Source: Jonathan M. Hicap, Korea Times, September 13, 2009 *=*]

“The English education explosion in the Philippines among South Koreans was a product of ideal factors that fit together. The Philippines -- ranked in the top 10 in terms of English-speaking population - has affordable education. This is coupled with its strategic distance from South Korea: Manila can be reached by plane in just four hours from Seoul. In addition, the Philippines has a low cost of living, making it an appealing place for South Korean students to stay and live. Throw in the allure of its white-sand beaches and tropical weather and you'll have a formula to make it a favored travel destination. *=*

“Today, hundreds of schools throughout the Philippines offer English as a Second Language (ESL) courses for foreigners, but South Koreans stand out as the leading group that comprises the majority of the ESL market in the Philippines. Based on data provided to The Korea Times by the bureau's student desk division -- headed by Teodulo Estrada, chief, and Adela Camtal, assistant chief -- South Koreans who were issued Special Study Permits increased by 500 percent from 2004 to 2008. In 2004, the data showed 5,877 South Koreans were given SSPs in the Philippines. The figure increased three-fold to 17,904 in 2005. The numbers continued to increase over the next three years. In 2006, 21,876 Koreans obtained SSPs while 27,322 got the permits in 2007. Last year, 29,155 Koreans were granted permission to study short-term courses in the country. In total, 102,134 South Koreans studied in the Philippines from 2004 to 2008 -- or an average of 20,427 students per year, or 1,702 students per month. In addition, 13,937 South Koreans were granted student visas from 2004 to 2008. The visa allowed them to study degree courses in the Philippines. *=*

“In the last five years, South Koreans became the largest group of foreigners to study in the Philippines. The numbers continue to rise as more schools offer ESL courses. De La Salle University, one of the Philippines' top universities, is one of the schools accredited by the Philippine Bureau of Immigration as an English-language learning center for foreigners. The university's Manila campus has the Center for Language Learning (CeLL) that provides year-round short English courses. The length of each is three weeks, ranging from basic grammar to conversational English. *=*

“According to Dr. Leonisa Mojica, center director, a total of 515 Koreans enrolled at the center in 2008. From January to August this year, there were 184 Koreans who enrolled in various short English courses. Mojica said most are college students while some are working students. She said almost all of them have "little knowledge and can hardly speak English" when they enroll. "At first they have difficulty speaking in English," Mojica said. On the average, a Korean student takes two to three English courses that take about two to three months to finish. Afterward, Mojica said the Koreans are happy that their use of English has improved. When asked why Koreans prefer to take English courses in the Philippines, Mojica said it's probably because the tuition fees "are cheaper" compared to fees in other countries, plus the fact that they are appreciative of the kind of teaching or training that they get from their centers. Besides offering one-on-one and classroom English courses, many Philippine schools are offering online courses for students in South Korea who want to learn English using the Internet. *=*

ESL has become such a growing business sector in the Philippines that the government incorporated it as part of its tourism program. According to the tourism department Web site, the Philippines ESL Tour Program "is a tourist activity in which the study of English as a second language forms part of a structured tour package. The study of English becomes more exciting and fun through dynamic and creative ways of learning where participants get to interact, practice and use English more often in real-life settings (through) games, outdoor activities, excursions and immersions. Aside from learning the English language, participants get to see the beautiful scenery of the Philippine countryside and immerse with the local culture." *=*

Philippine Government Cracksdown on Unregistered English Language Schools Run by Foreigners

In 2012, The Philippines Bureau of Internal Revenue announced it was cracking down unregistered English language schools posing as dorms and restaurants that cater mostly to visiting foreigners. Katrina Mennen and A. Valdez wrote in InterAksyon.com, “Deputy Commissioner Estela Sales told Interaksyon.com that several schools, which are mostly managed by foreign nationals, have been offering English language training without proper registration with the BIR. "I have ordered an all-out investigation against English schools that have been operating in the country without the proper registration, which is a means to defeat or avoid the payment of income tax," Sales said. “If these schools involve foreign nationals as principals we will also request for their deportation without prejudice to their tax liability,” she added. [Source: Katrina Mennen A. Valdez, InterAksyon.com, November 27, 2012 /=\]

“These schools are very discreet. You wouldn’t easily detect that they are indeed English training schools because these are usually operated within the residential areas like dorms for college students and some even operate as authentic Korean, Taiwanese or Japanese restaurants during the evening. But in fact, these are English training schools,” the source told InterAksyon.com Filipino teachers, who are mostly college students, receive P70-100 per hour for their services. /=\

“We have also received complaints from Filipino teachers who teach via Skype that their principals withhold income tax against their salaries when in fact, these businesses have no ATP from the BIR. We will also verify that and hold these principals accountable," Sales said referring to the bureau's authority to print receipt. Claro Ortiz, BIR head revenue executive assistant and overall coordinator for the Run After Tax Evaders Program, said the bureau’s Special Investigation Division is conducting a tax mapping operation to track down the unregistered schools. “This operation is within the regional operations, meaning each of our regional offices are conducting their separate investigations as these schools are prevalent not only in Metro Manila but also in the nearby provinces and even in the Visayas and Mindanao,” Ortiz said. /=\

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Philippines Department of Tourism, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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