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English in the Philippines (rebuttal)

Today I received a comment to my article posted on January 20th “English in the Philippines” from Binkee of the website

Binkee was very defensive of her native country, which is expected of a person who loves here country.I did not want to upset anyone, and try not to, but because of me stating facts from memory, I felt it was best to find proof, or at least articles from the Internet.

I will just show part of the articles and give links to the article I have taken my excerpt.

Again I want to state, I wrote that article because of things I have read and seen. I again am stating, I realize I live in a country where English is not their native language, but has been taught and used here for years.

The Manila Standard Today posted this article on April 28, 2007

English incompetence a national concern

By Giovanni Paolo J. Yazon
IS ENGLISH proficiency still one of our superficial key advantages in the global market?

Most of us perhaps will say yes. Through this skill, we are able to compete with other Asian countries like India, especially when it comes to the multi-billion dollar call center industry.

But a nationwide survey says it’s the other way around.

Social Weather Stations said that despite a national policy that requires public schools to use English as the medium of instruction, more and more Filipinos “can neither converse nor understand English.”

Our proficiency in the English language—widely seen as a passport to a better life in the country—has dropped significantly!

The survey, conducted from March 8 to 14 used 1,200 respondents and had a margin error of 3 percent. The project, dubbed as “Promoting English Proficiency Project,” was an initiative spearheaded by the American Chamber of Commerce and the Makati Business Club. Here are some “hurtful” facts:

• Only 32 percent of the respondents said they speak English, way behind 54 percent in 2000 and 56 percent in 1993

• 65 percent of the respondents said they understand spoken English—12 percentage points lower than previous surveys; 14 percent said they are incompetent in English—7 points higher than the 2000 and 1993 surveys

• A declining trend was also observed in all aspects of English proficiency such as reading, writing, and thinking (in English)

• 65 percent said they read English—a decline from 76 percent in 2000 and 73 percent in 1993; those who write in English dwindled to 48 percent from 61 percent and 59 percent in the last two surveys, respectively

• Respondents who claimed they think in English reduced to 27 percent from 44 percent in 2000 and 42 percent in 1993

A study conducted recently by the Call Center Association of the Philippines also showed that contact centers hire less than 5 percent of 100 job applicants due to “inadequate English skills.”

United Nations’ Philippine Human Development Report (2000) revealed that would-be teachers have poor English language skills and scored the lowest in English of all subjects in their licensure examinations.

According to the Department of Education, of the graduating high school students, only 7 percent had a mastery of English—scoring at least 75 percent in nationwide tests! Wed Feb. 4, 2009

Teachers’ English proficiency poor

First Posted 05:04am (Mla time) 06/10/2007

MANILA, Philippines—Only one out of every five public high school teachers is proficient in the English language, results of a self-assessment test conducted in 2004 by the Department of Education showed.

Of the 53,000 teachers who took the exam, only 19 percent or 10,070 scored at least 75 percent, the passing grade.

In 2005, Fe Hidalgo, then officer-in-charge of the department, lamented that more than half of the country’s 458,282 public school teachers had little or no training in English, Science and Math.

Quite expectedly, the teachers’ lack of mastery of the English language was reflected in public school students’ performance in the National Achievement Test.

In the academic year 2004-2005, elementary pupils got a failing average of 59 percent in English, while high school students got 51 percent. The passing mark was 75 percent.

League of Provinces website posted these comments Oct. 8, 2008-

“A call center outfit offered our province 10 slots for jobs and had our new high school graduates take the exams,” he said. “We were proud the company had given us the chance—so we enlisted the top 50 of our fresh high school graduates who were provincial government scholars,” recalled Gov. Uy.

The rest of the story was better forgotten. Only 2 passed the test, and the rest of the slots were given to other provinces.

There are more articles I found, but if you’re interested just Google search “English proficiency in Philippines public schools” and “english proficiency in Philippines public school teachers” and you will find more

47 Responses to “English in the Philippines (rebuttal)”

  1. corned beef says:

    I have mixed feelings about the articles you cited. The figures are probably true, but then when it comes to everyday interactions that need interactions in English, I think we Filipinos do well.

    A non-Filipino asking for directions, for instance, will usually be able to receive an understandable answer from the locals. Sure, most of the directions given by someone you chance upon in the streets might be in pidgin — with more than a few hand gestures given for clarification — but the point gets made. Communication is usually successful.

    Westerners traveling to some Asian countries other than the Philippines have told me that it’s much harder communicating in English with the locals. Their questions or attempts at conversation are met with either blank stares or shakes of the head, signifying that the local doesn’t understand and/or can’t reply in English.

    I’ve met many tourists from Europe, Australia, and the USA in Boracay, Bohol, and Cebu — first-timers in the Philippines, but who have visited other Asian countries before — and a lot of them are flabbergasted at why my country is so much behind nations like Thailand and Vietnam when it comes to international tourism visibility, since we have amazingly beautiful locales; plus, virtually everybody can communicate in English. The street signs, the billboards, everything here can be read in characters they can read (though of course, they can’t understand the Tagalog signs). In Thailand or Vietnam, for instance, most Westerners can’t read the signs written using local alphabet characters.

    Well, there are reasons why Asian countries like Vietnam and Thailand are vastly more popular among Westerners. Comparisons are so depressing; when I visited Saigon in 2007, I felt despair for Manila. Saigon is so much more progressive and cleaner than Manila, in my opinion. Plus, it seemed so much more impressive, considering the city was a war-torn hell-hole from the Vietnam-American War. Value for money also seemed better there, compared to here. I am a Manila-born-and-raised gal, and the situation in my Manila has seemed to go from terrific to f**king terrible. It seems like you really have to go out of your way to find value for money in Manila; I hope I’m wrong, though.

    That said, I know of some Westerners who like it here a lot. For one thing, they can read all the store signs and street signs. For another thing, they can communicate satisfactorily in English. Finally, the country’s lovely spots — even the most tourist-infested spots like Boracay and Bohol — are nowhere near the “crowded-ness” they’ve seen in other Asian tourist areas like Phuket (and very much less expensive too, according to them).

    I apologize for the lengthy comment, Bruce. But thanks!

    I was in Davao City recently, it would’ve been nice to have coffee with you and your wife.

    • Bruce says:

      Corned Beef,
      Thank you for visiting and commenting.
      I did not say all Filipinos cannot speak English, many can speak it fluently. I am out often and being a smoker, I stand outside malls and usually start up a conversation with someone. Many times they look confused or do not answer my question well so I ask how well is their English and say little.
      I am just talking about and showing articles about why there is problems especially the younger generations from public schools.

  2. Bingkee says:

    You know we Filipinos living here in America do not complain about getting used to speak English despite our accent which most Americans based as critical judgment. When we speak English here, Americans think we’re not smart or we’re idiots because we have a funny accent. I had experienced racism from white people here in your country because of my funny English. Do we laugh at Americans trying to speak our language? No, we try to help him. Do we judge people based on how they speak ?

    I am not stating my comments based on memory. What’s your “basis” in concluding that I am commenting based on memory. I visit my country every two years. My comments are based on how I know my own people.

    You don’t know my people, especially the unfortunate ones—the poor, the uneducated, etc. I don’t care about what you read on the news—having worked with mass media before in the Philippines, it can be subjective and hyped to raise more awareness.

    The news may be right on some aspects and in some areas, but that is not in general.

    I just hope that you should write it in a way that was putting the issue on a positive light—like what you can do to help alleviate the problem. Or take it as an issue of awareness….but instead your words were mostly criticizing about our inability to speak English.

    I already did point out that English teachers are scarce these days because of tight budget.

    My auntie is a principal in an elementary school, and an uncle is a superintendent in one school district—-they’re all old , yet they speak proficient , grammatically correct English (more grammatically correct than Americans) and all their schools have English teachers.
    So I think getting facts from newspapers is not enough or even on the internet—go to as much as elementary schools you could. See the reality there.
    I’m here in America, and I write about what I see here and hear here —I might criticize but I do take the issue in a positive way like suggesting resolutions. Or bring it as an issue to forewarn the Americans.

    Of course, your post was kinda demeaning.
    Thanks for the post about this—at least my countrymen and your readers know what you missed.

    • Bruce says:

      You are right in many ways. I did not start this to insult Filipinos. I live here and enjoy living here. It all started when I heard from others and see in my own home how many Nursing students have trouble passing the English portion of the tests to work abroad. I will also agree newspapers are slanted to their editors views.
      There has been discussions for foreigners to offer free tutoring or assistance in schools. I will report on it if I get anymore news.

  3. Bingkee says:

    I am sorry that I am so upset about your post…but I also do not want to antagonize you. I also misread that “you got your facts from your memory” and not you saying that I my comments are from memory.
    It is not good to judge my people’s abilities —we are very intelligent people despite our poverty. I am just so morbidly affected by your post putting the issue into a shameful and embarrassing matter because of some Filipinos inability to speak English. Why don’t you compare us with the Japanese or the Chinese —-our English is perfect compared to their English. And I was kind of astonished somebody had the nerves to criticize some people’s English because of poverty—tight budget to supply good English teachers. I thought your post then was about suggesting some measures to alleviate the problem but instead you were pointing out our weirdness because our medium was all in English and old people don’t know how to speak English. I think that would be a shallow interpretation.

    That is like saying our people are “idiots” because they are required to speak English yet they don’t know how to speak English? That is not true. My nephew is schooled in a public school and he speaks perfect English. My grandaunt is 85 yrs old and she speaks perfect English. I don’t get what you’re trying to point out in your post.

    Filipinos do not speak English when they are not required to speak it. That’s not welcome there especially when they know that you can speak the language, they will speak the Filipino language. But if they know you don’t speak our language, they are going to speak English.

    I don’t care about the news because that is not a good source of the truth I see around when I am there. I know my people more than you do. Even if you say you’re married to a Filipino, I don’t care because being married to one is not being born there and have lived a life that is my “generation, my blood and my lifeline”.

  4. corned beef says:

    The articles he cited are demeaning to Pinoys to an extent, especially since most of us take pride in our ability to write and speak English. But there’s more than a grain of truth in those articles. That’s my opinion, at least.

    Children of some of my friends go to a certain private school whose English teachers have lessons plans that would make us cringe — not only for grammatical issues, but for commonsense issues as well; topics that can be verified via credible online resources.

    For instance, there’s this teacher in a prominent school in Makati who insisted that “igloo” is not a word. When students pointed out to him what it meant — and cited various resources — he insisted it was a “typo” and that no such word exists legitimately in modern language.

    Good heavens.

    Situations like that make it easy to believe that our proficiency in English has deteriorated if you compare it to previous years.

    • Bruce says:

      Corned Beef,
      Thank you for pointing this our. I have heard and read that all over the world with kids on computers and cell phone texts, the younger generations language skills are getting worse.
      I am guilty, I use a word processor for all my posts and emails.

  5. Tom Martin says:

    I would agree that the older generation that had an opportunity to get an education in the Philippines can speak English well. When they went through school English was used in public schools. President Aquino is responsible for de-emphasizing English in public schools.

    I get upset every time I read an article by one of the professors are for only having English used in High School claiming the children will loose their ability to speak their native language. These professors do not send their children to public schools they send them to Catholics schools where English is the primary instruction language.

    Children have the ability to learn languages easily. Through out Europe the children speak three or four languages and do not loose their ability to read and write their native language. I believe these professors that do not want English used in lower grades sell the children of the Philippines short by making it appear Philippine children cannot due what other children around the world do and they certainly make it more difficult for them to get higher paying jobs later in life.

    Just this week I met with a young man trying to attend the University of Mindanao and is going to have to drop out because he did not learn enough English in the province public schools to keep up with his classes.

    Vince a high school teacher I know here in Davao cannot carry on a fluent conversation in English and I was invited to sit in on his history class one day and although the class was suppose to be taught in English it was more Tagalog than English. The constant switching back and forth from one lanuage to another was confusing to me.

    There are some in the Philippines that get a big laugh out of foreigners trying to speak their language. Their are fools everywhere. When I lived in Mexico I encountered the same thing and I am sure their are fools in the U.S.A. that do it.

    I worked with sixth graders in Pasig in 2005 and they could not speak any English. In my opinion their teachers could not speak English. It is not the fault of the students or parents it is the fault of the educational system in the Philippines. Several years back the Congress passed a law teachers had to pass test in English and then the very next day leading Congressmen were saying Teachers did not have to worry no teacher would be terminated if they could pass the test.

    I agree if you live in a country you should learn to speak their language and not complain that they do not speak yours. It matters not to me what the people of the Philippines speak other than I love the people of the Philippines and I hate to see them fall behind India, Vietnam, and Cambodia in job opportunities.

    • Bruce says:

      Thank you for your comment. As I was pointing out was the fact that many Filipinos want to work abroad but then fail the English tests.
      Also, English being the International Business Language, it is needed to work and advance in bigger business opportunities.
      Then there is the Call Center business here that is hiring many Filipinos.

      There is something new I have heard, that Spanish will be taught in High School soon. I do not know if that will replace English altogether.

  6. Gmirage says:

    My mom in law’s husband is German, he is a well travelled person, frequenting the Asian region. He can understand basic Thai, Chinese and speak a little of them and other asian languages too. Ironically, married to a Filipina, he did not learn tagalog even before when he travels as a single tourist to the Philippines because he said,everyone in the Philippines (he spoke to) speaks English well.

    It may be different now to how it was a few years ago…I’ve noticed the changes in the educational system and unfortunately, students arent as competent as they used to be in speaking the language.

    One of the basic error I see (which i noticed in German as well) is the the use of ‘may’ and ‘can.’ I have always noted this a a child. May is used for asking permission while Can is used in relation to one’s ability. Say on a basketball game: May I join the game? vs. Can I join the game? (having an injured foot) etc—

    I agree with Tom Martin about kids learning multiple languages…proud to say my kids have 3!

    • Bruce says:

      Thank you for visiting and commenting. I think part is the education system. Maybe not in the bigger cities, but in the provinces. Also most households do not have cable so all they here is Tagalog. I joke about listing to a Tagalog station showing Government members and they go between Engkish and Tagalog.
      Most of my life I am guilty of the “may/can” and also I/me”.
      How about He/she since there is no such difference in their languages.

  7. Hans says:

    I am international communication manager and I can expres myself in 7 languages: Native Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portugues, but no Turkish. And in Turkey people don’t speak a second language, so I’m often stuck. Even when a company reach out to me for international business development they don’t speak one word English. To get the picture more accurate: 60% of the University graduates don’t speak English or another foreign language. That’s Turkey. So the Philippines must be a walhalla for me; spanish and english..)

    • Bruce says:


      Well give the
      Philippines a try, you will lean to appreciate Turkey.

      There is an old joke:

      What do you call a person that speaks 2 languages?

      What do you call a person that can speak 3 or more languages?

      What do you call a person that can only speak one language?

  8. Hi, cool site, good writing 😉

  9. johnray says:

    sir you really had quite an argument about this topic. Let me put my mind to this since I am also a teacher. I believe there is really a problem with literacy here in the Philippines, especially with the younger generations. One time during my practice teaching in Puerto Princesa City, I let this 4th year high school kid read. I was amazed at how he got to 4th year when in fact he could not even read the simplest sentence. Sadly his teachers allowed him to graduate.

    I also know so many people who graduated from public schools who can speak and write better english than I do, but usually they belong to the top class sections of the school. What about the lower sections? They compose the majority of the school and many of them can hardly write meaningful sentences. There is a problem and it must be addressed.

    I believe you have addressed the problem quite well. It does not mean just means there is a decline in literacy and that this problem must be addressed. But if we fail to address it, the Philippines will surely lose many opportunities that comes with being fluent in speaking English.

    But again, fluency in English does not guarantee superior intellect. It only means you have the skill… My father in-law can speak fluent english whenever he is drunk…aside from that he does not know how to speak well…hehehe

  10. Bruce says:

    As I have said, I realize the official language of this country is Pilipino (mainly Tagalog) and then there are so many other languages. I say languages because a dialect is minor variations to a language, and most here are so different.
    But, if you look at most newspapers, business signs, official signs, road signs and so much more are in English.
    The Philippines also promotes this country in America for tourism and a retirement location, that English is spoken here.
    Also with so many Filipinos wanting to work abroad, English is used in so many business areas.
    Another large employment area here is Call Centers. They need employees that not only understand and speak English, but also can be understood with better pronunciations.
    If it is to be taught, it should be taught well.
    Earlier this week I was at a local University. While talking to a professor, he told me he teaches in English and the students are supposed to talk in English too, but he does not force it.

    So, what do we do? Unless the Boards of Education enforce English, and trains the teachers to teach it correctly, nothing will change. I have also heard Spanish is going to be taught in schools again. No offence to Spanish speaking countries, but why teach it here?

  11. johnray says:

    From what I have observed and from other sources, the best way to language well is not to force it on ones throat. It has to be natural…this is the reason why English should be taught in the early years of a child’s life…Since Filipino (or any dialect to that matter)is their native language, it will be easier for them to learn it. They can cope up with their native language later on in their life. I learned to speak and write in English without thinking about it. As a person gets older, learning another language gets difficult but not impossible. I love my dialect, which is Cebuano. I do not want to exchange it for another language. But we are getting global, and learning English is a must. It does not mean that if we change the way we teach English in the elementary years we become unnationalistic…it just means that the previous methods does not work already…

    The only way to get these kids to learn English the natural way is to expose it to them at the earliest age. Meaning teachers must and should speak in straight English.

  12. Bruce says:

    That is another problem, from what I heard English is not taught, if at all, until High School.

  13. Hi Bruce The only problem I’ve encountered in the Philippines is when someone who speaks almost perfect English is too shy to talk. I think if I talked to them in Tagalog they will still not answer me due to shyness. I’m hoping to teach English as a second language while living in the Philippines. I’m not trying to get rich doing it but I want to help and I hope that shyness will not become a factor.

    • Bruce says:

      Most Filipinos are shy in nature. It is most. IF they speak it well, or poorly they are shy. I just take my time, try to talk slowly and look to see if they understand me. Just beware some will say yes, or ok, and actually not understand a word you said. I am working with an American that wants to open an American English Acadamy here and I am doing some legwork. If you come to Davao to live, maybe we all can work together.

  14. ceblogger says:

    bruce, i’m here in your blog again. those articles you showed above fortify your claims about english in the philippines. some call centers were turned off by our lack of quality english speakers, hence, they require applicants to go to some training centers. I, sometimes, complain about some of my staff’s poor english communication skills.

    but then, the filipinos are better english speakers than other asians. It’s actually advantageous for us since jobs abroad require proficiency of the english language. If the philippines are to continue exporting workers, they should invest in English teachers and good english programs. China is fast catching up.

    • Bruce says:

      Yes, The Philippines has the most english speaking in Asia, except maybe Hong Kong. That is why so many foreigners come here. But here is so much theaching of of “cracked” english.
      A lot of the attituded and lazyness is getting into the teaching here. Plagerism is rampent and they do not care. I tell my neices they only learn to click Copy and Paste and not the content of the reserch they find online

  15. Vicki says:

    Hi Bruce,

    So there’s now talk of Spanish being taught in schools? The only reason I can think of – the Philippines was once under Spanish rule. Maybe the powers-that-be think the Philippines should go back to its roots?!? I suppose there’s nothing wrong with having a foreign language elective (like Spanish or even Turkish – according to one nephew who’s taking it). I really don’t get why English is no longer the primary language of instruction. Although I speak Tagalog fluently, the language itself is a bit of a hassle to write in – some words/sentences are too long compared to the English equivalent.

    To Bingkee: Please don’t lump all Americans because of a few ignorants. I grew up here in the US, but have experienced discrimination as well. Some were subtle, some not so subtle. For the most part, people I’ve met have been friendly. I know Bruce doesn’t need defending, but if you read his posts again, he didn’t criticize ALL Filipinos. It was my understanding that he based his observation on people he’s come across on a daily basis. I don’t know about you, but when I go home for a visit, I read the papers and base my opinions on what’s written in the local papers. Granted some journalists exaggerate or misrepresent the facts. But as someone who doesn’t live there, how would I know that what I read is not true, especially when statistics are given? Based on what my cousins tell me, if I had read that same article that Bruce cited, I would conclude that English proficiency in the Philippines is not what it used to be.

    Tom Martin is right in that children do not use their ability to speak their native language. I’m just one proof. I migrated to the US at the age of 12 (I’m 45 now) and the first couple of times I went home, relatives and former classmates were surprised to learn that I still spoke Tagalog. I admit, my Tagalog pronunciation, initially, was rusty. Two of my brothers were 4 and 8 when we migrated here. They no longer speak Tagalog, but still understand it. Our cousins would speak to them in Tagalog, my brothers would answer in English.


    • Bruce says:

      I do not know if this is the reason, but I heard with all the call center and BPO business here, they want Bi-lingual English and Spanish because of all the Spanish speaking residents in the US.
      I did see a big banner ad looking for bi-lingual employees for a call center.

  16. RaiulBaztepo says:

    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

  17. dora20 says:

    hi bruce..your site is very interesting and i could see that a lot of my fellowmen are reacting about this speaking english issue…anyways your post is a great help to me because im conducting a research about the english proficiency of a certain public school..and these figures enlightened me of the current conditions of the english literacy of the filipinos today.

    I am a future english teacher and indeed, it is true that most of the high school students are having a hard time comprehending,speaking, and constructing sentences in english. I think the root of this dilemma is their foundation during their elementary days. This skill in speaking and writing english should have been mastered since the first grade. Most of the high school students cannot understand simple instructions in english. Im saying these things not to discriminate filipino learners but i want people especially teachers, to do something about this. It is hard for me to go back to basics in order to help my students. Well, im just doing the best that i can so that they will learn english little by little.

    • Bruce says:

      Thank you for visiting and commenting.
      To me it is a double edge knife. I live in your country where English is not one of the official languages but is needed for international business and many things in this country is in English.
      With the increasing call center and BPO businesses English proficiency is needed as well as nurses and other professions to work abroad.
      With all this, I would think the education system would try to do a better job teaching it. I also agree it is best started in the early schooling where the minds are more open to learn new things.

  18. Juan says:

    Despite the bitter truth about the decaying state of English proficiency in the Philippines, I would firstly like to thank you for your concern over our country’s plight. I have personally found this trend to be deeply disturbing, especially since the major local TV stations have gone full throttle on accelerating this process of decay.

    More than just an issue of global competency, I believe that the growing disparity between the English-proficient and the non-English-proficient represents a blatant form of social stratification in this country. With the advent of cable TV in the country about 15 years ago, I have seen a phenomenal rise in English profiency among the children of those who can afford cable TV.

    Meanwhile, for those who cannot afford cable, their children are left with fully-vernacularized TV shows whose only hints of English can be found in advertisements capitalizing on the image of success and glamour personified by beautiful english-speaking half-Filipinos, and actors and actresses speaking bastardized English in their efforts to project the same image.

    The case being so, English proficiency, more than color or clothes, has become a major criterion in sizing up the man on the street as to his living standards and quality of education. I know this for a fact because I know many friends who get turned off by suitors who cannot speak proficient English.

    I am obviously pouring my heart out into the matter because English in the Philippines is not just a matter of tourism or global competency. The dishearteningly blatant deprival of the capacity to speak good English of the poor Filipino has become one of today’s most powerful media for inequality, injustice, and oppression.

    We must empower the poor Filipino to break the chains of intellectual oligarchy. Bring back English to our schools. Bring back English to our television.

    • Bruce says:

      Thank you for your well written comment. For me, if English was more widely known and understood, it would make my life easier here.
      I do think it is the Philippines and the languages of the country should be the language. The problem is there are so many. Yes Philipino (another name for Tagalog) is the national language, but except for Manila, it is only used on tv and in schools or to be understood by people talking from mixed locals.
      My other thought, since the Philippines has so many call centers and OFW’s, English should be in all schools from an early age so all will be more proficient.
      My feeling is nothing will change and the proficiency will decrease more and more.

  19. wildcat75 says:

    I agree w/ u Bruce, our gov’t should do more to increase english proficiency in our country coz imho our english skills was better before than today, the Dept. of Education should enforce a strict laws on english teaching coz by conversing fluent english gives more advantage to every filipino both locally and internationally, hopefully there are more english speakers who are willing to teach our young generation to encourage to learn and speak english… learning english and other languages doesn’t make you a less filipino, just take the case of Dr. Jose Rizal who is a multi-lingual, he studied in Europe and learn to speak so many languages and then marry a caucasian woman (JOSEPHINE BRACKEN) but we idolized and respected him until this days..

    • Bruce says:

      I agree with you. English proficiency will help Filipinos in many ways, Jobs abroad, call center and other job here, folowwing tv such as CNN and learning more about the world news and newspapers.
      I do feel I am wrong in some ways, I am wrong since I am in your country and should speak your language but that is my problem. I am not writing these articles to say “I want every body to know English to make my life easier” I want Filipinos to have every advantage for their life to be better.

  20. wildcat75 says:

    I understand you BRUCE, children of today are getting less and less initiative of learning english and only focus on speaking our mother tongue, i think i blamed it to one senator (sorry i forgot his name) mentioning that we should only focus in our language, he wants filipinos to be like china who loves their own language, that’s the most stupid comment i ever heard from someone w/ highest position in the country, i’m sure he sent his children in America to have a better quality of education and english literacy using our taxpayers money but then encourage filipinos to just learn one language!!!! common give me a break!!! lack of english literacy is one of the reason why some OFW’s find themselves in difficult situation here in abroad, they can’t express themselves in english to fight for their right, now the gov’t ban ofw’s to work abroad who didn’t finished high school, so come to think of it what will happen to these filipinos who are deprived to earn a living in other countries just bcoz they never able finish high school? Since we have influx of english speaking nationals coming to live in the phils, i hope the gov’t do something to allow these people to teach english in my country, i’m sure they will become an important key to help our young generation to increase their english knowldge and at the same time help these non-pinoys to establish themselves in the country, i understand the frustration of foreigners who can’t find a job in the phils but it seems to me that only those filipino capitalist are worried to have a tight competition butthe thing is they can’t provide enough job for all the filipinos, their capital and resources are very limited so we need outside sources to allow foreigner to invest in our country and to gain empployment to the local people. I commend HK for having a good quality of english proficiency coz children here speak really good english bcoz Hk gov’t allowed english speaking national to teach here…..but i fell very bad for our younger generation in my country, if the teachers have poor english knowledge, what did you expect about their students? GO figure….. sorry! bruce i got carried away, as much as i love my homeland i don’t like the way the gov’t run our country… our judiscial and educational system among others are getting far behind compared to other asian neighbors…..

    • Bruce says:

      Thank you for following and giving your insightful comments. What this country needs is to get its citizens active in commenting their feelings to the government. Strong popular opinion with peaceful information and demonstrations can make changes. Look what happened to Estrada when he was president and how the people got him to step down. Unfortunately the citizens sit back and just complain. Grass root organizations can do powerful things. Also here as in most countries the big business and rich families have power over governments and the politicians. With the internet, even OFW’s can contact their representatives. Email Speaker Nograles and let him hear what you and your countrymen feel.
      I think with all the history of foreign powers having control here, there is a fear of loss of control. But this also causes the loss of foreign investment bringing jobs here.

  21. shella says:

    Hi Bruce, nice website…English,is not an exclusive language. It evolves until this generation because just like other languages it also borrows words from others. Different countries have a unique way of using english, that is why we have what we call, American English, british English, Australian English and of course for us Filipinos, Philippine English. I appreciate filipinos who are very proficient in using the english language but but can not demean filipinos who are not so good in speaking it. I believed that filipinos easily learn and adjust to anything subjected to them if only they would like to. We have a couple of good teachers in english so probably the reason why some filipinos are not so good in english is that they are not serious in learning it. But if students wil be serious of learning it jst like others then there should be no problem at all. But why would they not be serious? You see I guess learning a second language is a CHOICE, and only filipinos who are aware o its 9importance choose to learn it.

    • Bruce says:

      I agree English is used in many countries and their slang and pronunciations are different. I also agree English is a choice in the Philippines. The point I make is, if it is taught, it should be taught better. I know of a Filipino who was about to graduate as an English Teacher and her knowledge and pronunciation of English was very poor.
      Also many Filipinos who want to work in a call center, which is an industry offering many employment opportunities, has to give classes to improve pronunciations.

  22. angel says:

    hi sorry for my english, im still on the process of learning it. im a filipino and i can say that im not proficient in english… right now, im practicing my english with my american friend and it really helps a lot when you are talking to a native speaker.. i dont feel intimadated at all when im speaking to my american friend..she provides constructive criticism and doesnt laugh at all when my english becomes garbled..but i feel more nervous and intimadated when speaking with other filipinos because, in my experience, filipinos are too critical and will indiscreetly laugh whenever someone is trying hard to speak english.. there is a popular notion among filipinos that if you cant speak english fluently, then dont speak at all, other wise you will end up looking too trying most of the time i ended up getting mute.. filipinos should be supportive to each other and not put each others down..
    well , im quite proud now because my english improved a lot and thanks to lindsey, my american friend..if not for her, i dont think i will have the confidence to reply to your post. i know i still have a long way to go but im doing my best, and i believe, in just a matter of time, my english proficiency will improve..tnx..

    • Bruce says:


      I think it is good your working on improving your English. It will help in the employment field especially if you plan to go abroad.
      Except for using upper case for I and beginning of sentences, I think your comment was very good english, so as I see, your doing well.

  23. Gylle says:

    Hi Bruce,I just want to make a point why young generations are getting worse of English proficiency its hurt to be told I’m one of them.It is because on the first place were not being taught spoken English when we are in elementary, our teacher focused on grammar structure . Well I’m referring to a public school, If only I have the right to speak with the department of education I rather inform them to please teach the young children spoken English first before English grammar. How can they understand grammar structure if they don’t know how to speak?
    I apologized with my English I’m working hard on it to improve thanks.

    • Bruce says:

      Spoken Language should be taught in all aspects, pronunciation, grammar, reading and written. Start small and build on it. Unfortunately many of the teachers are not proficient in teaching it or speaking it well, so how will the kids learn except bad English.

  24. Ron says:

    The fact that English isn’t our native tongue but we Pinoys can still speak and write it well, is just awesome for me!
    Yeah.. you might be right that some of us — even me — have flaws with the said language but to be compared to other countries I am still more amazed with English in the Philippines than any other Asian countries.

    • Bruce says:

      I agree many speak English, the hard part for foreigners is many older Filipinos have forgotten English and the young not learned as well. But you are correct, for a non English Asian country, the Philippines have more English speaking people.

  25. Cindy says:

    Hi Bruce, I enjoy reading comments here in your site. In my case, I still need to improve my English ( American) for my own benefit to get a job in a call center here in Davao. I am a college undergraduate and with this educational attainment alone, surely its hard to land a job here. So when you establish your English Training Center here, let me be your first trainee and I wish its free. 🙂 Thank you! I’m not sure if my grammar is correct. But I love to read any kind of books when I was still in my elementary years, and I really like to express myself in English as well, it’s kinda’ much more easy for me. 🙂 But I know that I still need to learn more specially in pronouncing the word correctly, so that I will be qualified as a call center agent.

  26. SqUisHy says:

    hi bruce. . .tnx for this post. . it will help me a lot in doing my thesis about english profeciency among high school students. . . i agree that english litercy rate of high school students here in the philippines are getting lower due to that some teachers (specially on public schools) are giving most of their attention on higher sections while ignoring lower sections. . .also, some of the teachers are corrupt in a way that instead of teaching students in order for them to pass, they will ask something from the student (ex. money or gift) for them to be able to pass and proceed to higher level. . .

  27. Junrid says:

    We all missed a point here. We talked, discussed, and argued how well Filipinos speak correct “American English”. Speaking good English is not all there is. It is only one of the tools of one country’s development like being competitive in the fast growing industry of call centers that can provide jobs to Filipinos.

    What is most important is the attitude, and the character we Filipinos must posses to become productive for our development. We don’t need to go too far. Just see our neighbors like Thailand, Vietnem and oviously China and Taiwan. Generally they don’t speak correct American English or twang or tounge or what ever animal you can describe but yet they have fast growth that Phiilippines is behind.

    • Bruce says:

      You are right, the Philippines is falling behind in improving the country. I wrote my article because the country advertises it is an english speaking nation. Also it is needed to get a good position in another county. That is the main way to have a better life and to send money home. I feel becasue of the corruption the Philippines will not grow.

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