The Philippines and Globalization

One of the effects of globalization is the migration of workforce and therefore often their native languages. Two of the latest languages that are now on the way to spread globally are Filipino and Tagalog, both spoken in the Philippines but spreading with its population that chooses to work and live abroad.

For example in Canada Tagalog is the fastest growing language. In the 2011 census 279,000 Canadians said they speak Tagalog at home which is a 64% growth compared to the 2006 census with the biggest Tagalog-speaking population living in Vancouver.

This trend also makes Tagalog the fifth most common non-official language in Canada and permanent residents from the Philippines surpassed those from China and India in 2010 and 2011.

Because of the good level of English in the Philippines (more on that in a minute) it is easier for these expats to find jobs and work in the U.S. or Canada. But this also leads to a risk that children born overseas might lose their linguistic and cultural connection to their home country.

For that reason Dr. Ruth Elynia S. Mabanglo, a multi-awarded poet and playwright, made it her personal mission to promote Filipino worldwide. When the government pushed for Spanish and English in schools in order to make the country fit to better serve global business, Dr. Mabanglo mobilized a protest petition.

She identified Filipino language courses and created learning material which is now available around the world in order to support parents who want to teach their children their native language and culture.

“You cannot learn a language without understanding its culture so I have developed many courses. I have a course on Philippine films… on Filipino food, music and rituals. Language and culture: they are like twins.”

On the other hand, the Philippines play a major role in the ESL (English as Second Language) space. As the country is a former colony of the United States and also powers most of the call centers for companies based overseas many Filipinos speak a clear English with a convincing American accent.

Combined with relatively low cost for students compared to courses in the U.K., New Zealand or Australia the Philippines managed to become one of the major players in the English teaching market over the past years. A 60-hour course costs about a third of what students usually need to spend.

Student numbers from across the world are growing rapidly, from 8,000 who applied for a study permit in 2008 to 24,000 in 2012. And the country is planning to ramp up its efforts to attract even more foreign students, not only for English but also graduate and postgraduate courses in other fields as at the country’s top universities all classes are held in English.

Today the country markets itself as the third largest English-speaking nation behind the United States and the UK with most people speaking at least a rudimentary English. On the other hand, with a growing population of Filipinos living and working abroad it might be worthwhile to learn some Filipino or Tagalog as well.

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