To maintain the country’s position as one of the leading destinations offering English courses in Asia, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat urged schools to continue online English as a Second Language (ESL) programs.
According to the tourism chief, the Department of Tourism (DoT) has committed to play a part in assisting in the enhancement of educators’ skills and in exploring ways to further promote the country’s ESL offerings in order to cope with losses caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
“The students who have come here have returned to their home countries for now. While travel restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic have affected the growth of the ESL industry, we know we can take back the gains we have achieved,” Puyat said.
In line, Puyat said the DoT is closely working with the private sector and stakeholders in developing the official guidelines on health and safety protocols for the implementation of ESL schools once they are allowed to open by authorities.
English as a Second Language, also known as ESL, is classified under Education Tourism, a “niche” product of the DoT based on the National Tourism Development Plan 2016-2022.
Through years of development of ESL as a key educational tourism product and market expansion in the country, Puyat said it has lured students from foreign countries to the Philippines to learn English mostly coming from Asia, the Middle East and non-English speaking countries of Europe.
To note, Philippines’ English Proficiency Index (EPI) overall ranking against other non-native English speaker countries in the world dropped from 14th place in 2018 to 20th in the 2019.
However, it maintains the second spot in Asia following Singapore.
EPI measures the average level of English language skills based on the results of an online Standard English Test administered by English Proficiency Education First, a Swiss-based global company focusing on language, academic, cultural exchange, and educational travel programs.