MANILA, Philippines — The world’s “budget English teacher.”
This is how the Philippines was called in a recentBBC News report highlighting the country’s relatively cheap access to education compared to other English-speaking nations.
The report, written by Kate McGeown and posted online on Monday, noted the surge in the number of foreign students attracted by the country’s competitive rates for English education, which costs only a fraction of the tuition in schools in the United States or Canada.
Aside from language students, the number of foreign graduate and post-graduate students in the country is reportedly on the rise, apparently recognizing that local universities are at par with global standards.
A check with the Bureau of Immigration Student Desk indicated that as of October 2012, a total of 24,680 foreigners had applied for study permits, which was more than thrice the applications in 2008 totaling 7,569.
The agency also expects the applications for full student visas to reach at least 23,000 by the end of the year, which is over four times the 2008 figure of 5,336 applications.
A major advantage for Filipinos is having a clear American accent, according to the report, “partly because the Philippines was a US colony for five decades, and partly because so many people here have spent time working in call centers that cater to a US market.”
But studying in the Philippines has presented some challenges to students, the report pointed out. “Living here means coping with the bureaucracy and corruption, and if you’re in Manila, the heavy pollution,” it said.
Moreover, foreigners may find it difficult to understand Taglish, a mix of Tagalog and English which Filipinos use in informal communication.
“But for an increasing number of people, these are small obstacles compared with the benefits of studying in the Philippines,” added the report.
This is not the first time the country has been recognized for its English proficiency.
Last April, the Philippines topped 75 other countries in the Business English Index 2012 prepared by the GlobalEnglish Corp., a California-based company that aims to advance business English among global organizations.
Only the Philippines attained a score above 7.0, a “level within range of a high proficiency that indicates an ability to take an active role in business discussions and perform relatively complex tasks,” GlobalEnglish said in its release.
The Philippines is joined in the top five by Norway (6.54), Estonia (6.45), Serbia (6.38) and Slovenia (6.19).
Noting that a country’s business English capability is an indicator of its economic growth and business success, GlobalEnglish said that “it is not surprising that both the Philippines and Norway—the only two countries in the top five in both 2011 and 2012—are improving their economies, based on the latest GDP data from the World Bank.”