Thursday, June 19, 2008

How Good are Filipinos at English?

Like most colonies of English speaking nations ( such as of the US, Oz, Nz, UK), they speak their language at home, but are taught in English at school, and it is the language of the work place. The ones who are nearly native would be all those who went to college which, if I am not mistaken, is somewhere around 25-30%. The ones who cannot speak beyond just a few words, are somewhere around 20%, the rest are somewhere in between. Because school and college curriculum is copied after the US. those who go to school, learn everything in English ( unlike in, say, Vietnam, where the medium of instruction is VNese)

Because Filipinos can speak English, they are given preference in overseas hire and are sent/invited to other English-speaking ( countries/or places that were UK colonies such as HK, USA ( lol) Canada, Singapore, even the Middle East (which was not, arguably,truly colonized, but where college education is also in English).

Filipinos have no prejudice against English as a rule, and do not equate speaking it with losing their national culture. They were quickly able to adopt English and use it very well,unlike say, the other US Commonwealth -Puerto Rico where very nationalistic "natives" practically refuse to learn it and insist on keeping shools and work place Spanish- speaking.

Curiously enough, because most Filipinos shuttle back and forth between home, the US, HK, Singapore and the ME, they often form an illusion that well, the entire world speaks English, and that English is universal. They think that places like Japan and Taiwan are strange because of lack of English fluency. This is clearly a misconception because the majority of the world ( some 65%) is still non-English-speaking, and many countries very zealously protect their culture against "the Anglo Saxon imperialism".

Most also do not know the little known fact that there are more English speakers in Asia than in Europe. It leads to funny situations where a Filipino whose English skills are poor feels shy to talk to a white person for the fear of embarrassing him/herself in front of a native speaker. But very often the white person is a German whose English is even worse than that of the Filipino, and both are now shy to express themselves, each one thinking the other to be the "real" English speaker.

Most Filipinos have never been to Eastern/Central Europe, Korea, China, Latin America and other huge areas where English is still not popular.When they do go to those places and stay there for a while, they begin to feel lonely, and upon seeing English speakers, they run to them to greet them as their brothers-in-tongue.

Because of English fluency, Filipinos seem to have more affinity with Western, English-speaking nations than with many supposedly sisterly Asian nations such as Thailand or Cambodia of which they seem to know very little.


Anonymous said...

I agree! I am a Filipino and I'd been to some parts of Europe.

Anonymous said...

that would be great..i'm a filipino and haven't been to u.s but if i speak english my sound likes an american accent.

Anonymous said...

The thing now is that, whenever you're good or should I say, fluent with English be it on British or American accent, they'll just think that you're a call center agent. Not knowing that you're living in those English-speaking parts of the world. And those call center agents feel like they're fucking living in those English Speaking country and are nowadays arrogant!

I just hope, the US will stop outsource employees on the Philippines.

Anonymous said...

Filipino accent is horrible! "Pilipino uksent is urribol!"

UrsulaFletcher said...

Anonymous: Don't critiicize the Filipino accent when speaking English. I am British living in Asia and find it admirable that people from a 3rd world country can speak fluent English, widening their prospects of opportunity for themselves and their family. People in Uk have it easy and rarely learn another language as they don't need to.