MANILA - The Philippine government on Tuesday said it is addressing the problem of deteriorating English proficiency in the Philippines as noted by a group tasked to administer the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) for local workers seeking jobs abroad.
Deputy Presidential Spokeswoman Lorelei Fajardo said the government remains committed to improving the quality of teachers in the Philippines, particularly in public schools. She said the Department of Education has an Every Child is a Reader program that tests reading comprehension of Grade 3 students before they enter Grade 4.
She said the education department is also putting up speech laboratories in different schools.
Andrew King, country director of IDP Education Pty. Ltd. Philippines, earlier said the Philippines was just second to Malaysia in proficiency in listening, speaking, writing and conversing in English based on IELTS scores of local jobseekers.
He said the average overall score of Filipinos who took the IELTS last year was a poor 6.69 points where 7.0 was largely the passing score for those who took the test for migration to the usual countries that Filipinos seek to migrate to such as Australia.
King said the overall average score was disappointing because many of the Filipino IELTS takers were supposedly “educated.”
“These are professionals with college degrees and are managers in their jobs here who seek to migrate to Australia,” he said.
IDP Education Philippines is a group accredited by the Australian government to administer IELTS to Filipinos seeking to work, migrate, or pursue higher education in Australia.
IDP Education Pty. Ltd. is also accredited in administering the IELTS in more than 50 countries all over the world. It also provides English training to those who need it for migration, employment or studying in Australia.
In a presentation before the country’s teachers and operators of English language teaching schools at the National English Conference spearheaded by the Center for International Education (CIE) at Malcolm Hall in UP Diliman last week, King said the Philippines did not even enjoy the top place in its English proficiency in Asia or even the Southeast Asian region since it was held by Malaysia.
According to King, Malaysians had an average overall score of 6.71, leading among countries in Asia in overall English proficiency.
Philippines was second to Malaysia with 6.69; third was Indonesia with 5.99; fourth was India with 5.79; and Thailand fifth with 5.71.
King warned that the Philippines’ weakening English proficiency should be a cause for concern since there is an increasing demand for people who can speak it well all over the globe.
He pointed out that employers in countries where many Filipinos seek to enter to earn higher wages are now seeking quality English skills.
“The demand in English is going higher and higher,” King noted. “How good you are in English is becoming more important.”
In their review of the IELTS test results for 2008, King said the Philippines, with their overall average score of 6.69 points in the IELTS, would rank 5th in the level of proficiency in English along with other countries where IDP Education administer the test.
South Africa, he said, was number one with an average overall score of 7.72; Germany second with 7.16; Malaysia third with 6.72; Poland fourth with 6.70; and the Philippines.
King said the Philippines should address the problem of its deteriorating English proficiency considering that it was benefiting hugely from remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and the call center industry, which is providing employment to hundreds of thousands of mostly young Filipinos. With a report from the Philippine Star