The Philippines tops a recent English speaking proficiency test for BPO countries, amid local concern that the overall English speaking skill of Filipinos is in decline.
The top scores were 62 Latin America and East Europe are tied to second rank with a score of 58, while India is third with a score of 56.
English speaking proficiency is still the Philippines biggest competitive advantage despite rising competition from neighbouring countries. It is the third largest English speaking nation in the world.
In the previous year, IDP Education Pty. Ltd., accredited to administer the International English Language Testing System or IELTS, released language test results that showed the Philippines only ranking second in English proficiency in Asia. In a conference on English proficiency, IDP Education’s country director, Andrew King, warned that the decline of English proficiency could impact on the BPO industry. “Things like international treaties, business contracts and so on, are written in English, because it’s an exact language. You have to have people that can speak, read and write it well. To operate at high levels, you need very good English.”
In response to this, the government cited several ongoing projects to improve English proficiency in public schools, and one of them was the National English Proficiency Program. The government has also allotted an estimated US$ 23.9 million to train around 400,000 teachers in English, as well as Math and Science.
“We are part of the global community and there is economic competition among countries in the world. Let’s face it, English is still the number one language in the entire world,” said Augusto Santos, secretary for Socio-economic Planning.
S. Nagaraj, Founder and Chief People Officer of 24/7 Customer commented, “Filipinos and Latin Americans are closer to American culture because of historical reasons. Also in order to cash in on the BPO boom, the Filipino government has made an excellent effort in making English education compulsory.”