Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bilingual Ed threatens Philipines development in call centers

Education introduced a bilingual program to teach in local dialects based on studies that children learned better in a native language

*Erosion of English Skills Threatens Growth in Philippines
Published: November 24, 2006

Angeli Boteros speaks English like an American teenager. A
lifetime of watching American television and movies has left her
sentences peppered with the trademark phrases of American youth,
including ''like'' and ''you know.''

Ms. Boteros, 26, is so steeped in American popular culture, and
has such a good accent, that on the phone, she could pass for a
girl from California.

Over the last year, she has been doing exactly that. As a call
center agent at GCom, Ms. Boteros helps customers half a world
away overcome problems with products or services they have

''My friends used to tease me because of the way I speak
English,'' Ms. Boteros said at an open-air cafe in this booming
southern Philippine city. ''Not anymore.''

Davao City is one of several areas outside Manila where call
center companies have been venturing, drawn by lower labor costs
and large numbers of available workers.

But there has been concern lately that the industry's growth may
be limited by the deterioration of its main advantage: the English
proficiency of the work force. According to a study conducted by
the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, 75 percent of
the more than 400,000 Filipino students that graduate from college
each year have ''substandard English skills.''

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