According to reports, the Philippines is beginning to rank as one of the highest places to learn the English language. Over the past couple of years, enrollment in their English-speaking universities has jumped from around 7,000 to 24,000.
Most of the language students come from Asian countries such as Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. However, the universities are beginning to enroll more students from countries such as Iran, Libya, Brazil, and Russia. Most sources indicate that the Philippines have become an attractive place to study due to the low cost of living. Elizaveta Leghkaya, a Russian engineering student, cites that her school costs are a quarter of what they would be in Australia or Canada.
Not only are students benefiting from lower education costs, they also have ample opportunities to learn the English language out of the classroom. Filipinos are known for their ability to speak English with an accent clear enough to fool most Americans. This may partly be due to the large number of people who have worked in call centers, where quality communication with US markets is essential to the job. “I have a background in call centers, so I’ve learned to adopt an American accent–it’s one of the prerequisites when you join,” comments English teacher, Jesy king.
However, a lot of people also speak “Taglish” which is a combination of English and the local language Tagalog. Taglish speakers often use English words in a way that compliments Filipino culture, while not adhering to the grammatical rules of English language. Although this may present unique challenges for some foreign students, it seems to outweigh the numerous other advantages.
And more students are taking notice of all the country has to offer, as demands for graduate and post-graduate courses begin to increase as well. Education Secretary Armin Luistro comments, “…The growing number of interested applicants tell us that maybe this is an area we should be working on, ensuring that their entry in the country will be facilitated.”
The Philippines are rightly motivated to rethink their educational strategy, having all the makings to become a regional powerhouse for international education.
Creative Commons Love: Benjie Ordonez on Flickr