FUSE GA, September 2015

by / Wednesday, 08 June 2016 / Published in Articles

English: No longer a language, but a commodity

Filipino workers continue to enjoy an edge over other nationalities in
the Asean region in fluency and mastery of English, despite the
conflicting and divergent views insofar as the conduct of English
language teaching and learning in the Philippines is concerned.

Edizon A. Fermin, principal of Miriam College High School, said the
BPO (business-process outsourcing) industry still gives priority to
Filipino speakers of English with the Philippines getting a high
rating in terms of relative attractiveness in the Asean (Association
of Southeast Asian Nations) region’s BPO sector.

“We are looking at English as an Asean language, one that would
connect us to the rest of the world,” Fermin stressed.

“Does that mean we learn the language for the BPO industry? Fermin
asked, as he addressed the regular general assembly of the Foundation
for Upgrading the Standard of Education (FUSE). “Of course not, and
take note, don’t associate the BPO sector to call centers.  In the BPO
industry, you will be asked to write speeches, descriptions or

Fermin, who is also the president of the Philippine Association for
Language Teaching, said Filipinos are no longer studying English as a
language, but as a product or “commodity” and has become one of the
country’s chief economic resources.

“So, while there have been tensions, it has been a beautiful journey
for English language education in our country,” Fermin told
participants, composed mostly of teachers and school administrators,
of the FUSE assembly, which is celebrating its 22nd anniversary this

“Historically speaking, we want to believe that majority of these
changes were directed towards meaningful national education reforms,
cognizant perhaps of other regional and international imperatives, but
in the course of rolling out these changes, people who are
representing various generations of teaching, learning, curriculum,
materials development framework or philosophies, we seem to forget
that it is no longer our own imperatives that matter, “ Fermin said.

“A Korean company told me that Korean parents have discovered that the
kind of English their children learn here actually qualifies them for
short-term courses and enables them to enroll in universities abroad,”
Fermin pointed out.

Referring to the ESL (English as Second Language) program of the
Department of Tourism, Fermin said that linguistic tourism is at its peak due
to the competitiveness of English language education in the country.

DOT launched the tour program to attract more overseas tourists to
study English in the Philippines.