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Language proficiency or linguistic proficiency is the ability of an individual to speak or perform in an acquired language.

As theories vary among pedagogues as to what constitutes proficiency,[1] there is little consistency as to how different organizations classify it. Additionally, fluency and language competence are generally recognized as being related, but separate controversial subjects. In predominant frameworks in the United States, proficient speakers demonstrate both accuracy and fluency, and use a variety of discourse strategies.[2] Thus, native speakers of a language can be fluent without being considered proficient. En.wikipidea.org Really? What is it? The Business Process Association of the Philippines reported last year that the country's BPO industry was regarded as a second front runner after India. Today, the Philippines has overtaken the latter in certain aspects of outsourcing. The country has also become top destination for American companies for their back office requirements. These companies cite Filipinos' cultural inclination towards Americans and their "proverbial" American accent. But read this: Russ Sandlin, an American businessman in the Philippines, recently closed his call center in Manila because he said he could not find enough English proficient workers. Not even 3 percent of the students who graduate college here are employable in call centers, he complained. Adding to this, the Department of Education reported that 80 percent of secondary school teachers in the Philippines failed in an English proficiency test in 2007. So where is the veracity of those claims that the Philippines have a substantial pool of English-proficient workers? A friend who works in the HR department for one of the Manila offices of Canadian telecom, Telus, said that they interview an average of 50 people a day and only manage to hire two or three applicants. The proliferation of BPO companies in the country has entailed the setting up of American-accent training facilities. One of the most important qualifications that a customer representative must possess is the ability to speak with an American intonation. The bureaucracy has made a short-term solution to fill the vacancies in these burgeoning contact center offices in the country. What the government and the industry should do is go back to formal education, a step steadily taken through the House Bill 305: mandating the use of English as the medium of instruction in all academic subjects from Grade 3 onwards and encouraging the use of English as the medium of interaction outside the classrooms. (A little backgrounder: English and Filipino are the official languages of the Philippines) If the country wants to continue its competitiveness in the BPO sector, it must act quickly to address this worsening issue. http://www.nowpublic.com/culture/philippines-proficient-english-or-not by jayr_patron | April 16, 2008 at 11:22 pm By Pepper Marcelo It used to be that the Philippines biggest competitive advantage in the global job market is the proficiency of our skilled workers in the English language. This advantage, however, is fast being eroded by rising competition from other countries coupled with declining mastery of the English language by our college graduates. Recent language test results released by the IDP Education Pty. Ltd. Philippines, an accredited group that administers the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to Filipinos seeking to work and migrate abroad, showed that the Philippines is no longer the top Englishspeaking country in Asia. With an overall score of 6.71, Malaysia is now the No. 1 in English proficiency in Asia. The Philippines placed only second with 6.69, followed by Indonesia (5.99), India (5.79) and Thailand (5.71). This was gleaned from IELTS results in 2008, during which some 35,000 Filipinos 70 percent of them nursing graduates applying for jobs abroad took the language exam to evaluate their English proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and listening. During a conference on English organized by the Centre for International Education (CIE) in Manila, Andrew King, country director of IDP Education Pty. Ltd. Philippines warned that the continuous decline in Filipinos English proficiency could affect the growth of the call center industry which provides thousands of jobs at home and abroad. English still rulesIn an interview with Planet Philippines, King stressed that English remains the lingua franca or default language of international business and diplomacy.

Things like international treaties, business contracts and so on, are written in English, because its an exact language, he says. You have to have people that can speak, read and write it well. To operate at high levels, you need very good English. He states that employers in todays global market want people that have not only international experience and good qualifications that are recognized all over the world but also high proficiency in spoken and written English. English has less elasticity and flexibility so you can say exactly what you want to say and not argue about the meaning. If you get your tenses, plurals and prepositions wrong, then youre not going to be accurate. He adds: Here and around the world, people are asking for better competency in English. Being able to get by is not enough. King says proficiency in English is a huge advantage for every job seeker, even those who have no plans of working overseas. Foreign companies in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector, he notes, locally administer their contracts in English. A foreign company wont enter into a contract thats not of their language. For business consultant Peter Wallace, who also spoke at the CIE English conference, comprehension is the problem. Do you understand what youre hearing? Do you understand what it means when you say that? These are the issues. BOP takes actionThe biggest obstacle for the ever-growing BPO industry sector is recruiting enough capable graduates with the required English skills. Industry observers estimate that only three in every 100 applicants are able to gain satisfactory employment. In certain cases, the BPO industry has taken it upon themselves to train prospective employees so that company growth will not be impeded. The formal educational system is hard-pressed to train young Filipinos in proper grammatical English, so the private sector has taken the lead, says Frank Holz, CEO of Outsource2Philippines. Observers have attributed the decline in English skills to budgetary constraints and lack of proper infrastructure in the countrys educational system. In fairness, the Department of Education is trying its best, but unfortunately, this generation of teachers does not have the capability, says Wallace. King attributes the decline in English to the poor quality and training of local schoolteachers, as well as the continuing use of outdated or erroneous textbooks. Students are not being taught correct English and the resources and materials theyre given is incorrect. Bilingual policyAnother problem, and a continuing topic of debate, has been the educational systems bilingual policy, adopted 35 years ago which compels schools to use English and Filipino as medium of instruction. People use the excuse that theres Filipino English. Filipino English is English as long as its correct. If its incorrect English, it doesnt matter what you call it. Its just being an apologist for peoples mistakes is wrong, King points out. The incorrect use of the language on local TV newscasts and English-dubbed cartoons, also contributes to the decline in English proficiency among Filipinos. Everyday, on virtually all television and newspapers, you hear incorrect use of prepositions, adds King. He cites the words in and on as examples. You hear the car was driving on the lane, which would mean on top of, rather than in, as in within the two lines. He also blames technology such as the internet and SMS messaging (texting) on cell phones, which favors speed and levity but fosters poor written skills. We use abbreviations in chat rooms, and we have created a whole new language, and texting on cell phones has created a short language. Even cultural prejudice and ignorance is an issue, King laments. Snobbery youre a snob if you speak English. No, youre a person thats committed to learn more than one language. Govt responseIn response to IDPs released test results, the government assures that it remains committed to improving the quality of teachers in the Philippines, particularly in public schools. Malacaang cites a number of ongoing projects to improve the English proficiency of teachers and students in public schools, such as the Project Turning Around, Every Child A Reader Program, and the National English Proficiency Program. Officials also said the government is allotting P1.1 billion to train nearly 400,000 teachers in Math, Science and English skills. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Augusto Santos said he brought up the problem during one Cabinet meeting and top government officials agreed to do something about it. We are part of the global community and there is economic competition among countries in the world. Lets face it, English is still the number one language in the entire world, said Santos.

King says that the problem could be traced to the prevailing social and political conditions in the country. One of the issues is that there are too many children for teachers to cope with. You can go back to population control, so there are so many that you cant manage within the education system. But thats a whole different argument. One possible solution he suggests is to import external people to analyze the English curriculum and resources, and try to identify the issues that are affecting the ability to communicate accurately. Another solution, adds Holz, is to use the internet in English training. More work needs to be done on this, but eventually there wont be as great a reliance on instructor-led training, he says. Rather the entire process from assessment through delivery through final validation will be able to be done online. Whatever the solution, King says its going to take time. Youre not going to magically turn around a generation of people whose English has been taught incorrectly. ENGLISH PROFICIENCY IS KEY TO LANDING A JOB Teachers English proficiency poor Inquirer First Posted 05:04:00 06/10/2007 MANILA, PhilippinesOnly 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 countrys 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. In an effort to alleviate the problem, DepEd allocated in 2005 nearly P600 million for the training of teachers in English proficiency and Science. Just last March, DepEd issued a memorandum detailing the administration of a self-assessment test for 3,400 elementary teachers, as part of the departments National English Proficiency Program. Once test results are released, the top 1,700 of the examinees would be trained as mentors who would assist fellow teachers in their schools or districts. Cyril L. Bonabente, Inquirer Research