Most of you already know that I am married to an African-American guy, have a 1-year-old son, and have visited and lived in California for almost two years. Since I am married to someone whose native language is English, I have no choice but to speak to him in English at all times as well.
But whenever I’m in a public place, I always find myself uncomfortable talking to my husband. Alam ko kasi people are eavesdropping, waiting for me to make a mistake. I know this is how most Filipinos think because I’ve seen it so many times. In fact, I do the same thing.😅
Filipinos like to criticize and make fun of each other pagdating sa English. Nagiging material na din ito ng mga comedians. Sobrang tawang-tawa tayo kapag nakakarinig tayo ng mga tao na nag e-english na sa tingin natin ay hindi BAGAY. We call it, “trying hard”.
But even though that’s the case, did you know that according to an Educational Testing Service (ETS) ranking based on TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores for 2010, the Philippines ranked 35th out of 163 countries worldwide? This means Filipinos are really good in the English language although we do not use it every day. There is a reason behind that.
Why are Filipinos good in English?
I know some of you find history boring but let me just share this with you really quick para malaman natin kung bakit magaling tayo sa English compared to other nations.
Pagkatapos ng Spanish-American War at ng Philippine-American war, maraming Amerikano ang nag stay sa Pilipinas. More than 100 years later, naging bilingual nation na nga ang bansa natin. Ginawang official language for communication and instruction ang Filipino at English langugages. Itinuro sa atin ang English as language subjects sa public schools at ito rin ang language na ginanamit para ituro ang iba pang suubjects tulad ng science, mathematics, and techology courses. Sa kalaunan, naging attractive destination ang Pilipinas para sa mga mag re-retire at sa mga turista mula sa mga English-speaking countries sa buong mundo.
Today, the majority of the language used in national TV commercials, shows, news, and books ay English. We are exposed to the language every single day without us even knowing it!
Furthermore, a report published by business inquirer state that – Filipinos are fairly good learners when it comes to the rules of grammar. It’s also easy for us to pick up new words from what we read and hear. Wala tayong problema pagdating sa pakikinig communicate kasi we know the words and how to pronounce it.
Alam mo ba kung ano ang problema sa atin pagdating sa English?
Cohesion. It means the organization of our ideas.
Coherence. It means the connection of those ideas on both sentence and pharagraph levels.
Sa madaling salita, mahirap sa atin ang i-organize ang ating mga ideas at isulat ito sa papel, according to Ian Cortez, ang head of parnerships and new business ng Philippine British Council. Magulo yung pag construct natin ng ating mga ideas – kung sa bisaya pa, wala dre, wala didto (wala dito, wala doon).
Dapat pala gumwa muna tayo ng outline or summary para kapag kaylangan na nating isulat yung mga ideas natin into pharagraphs, alam na natin kung alin ang uunahin natin isulat at alin ang ipapa huli.
Is it important for Filipinos to learn English?
Of course it is!
While English is not a measurement of one’s intelligence, it is very important when dealing with the world outside our own little world. Here’s my straight to the point opinion: English is a universal language so if you want to take advantage of every opportunity presented by other first world countries, learning the English language is a must.
Back in September 2017, I read the news about the 59 nurses recruited in Manila for a job in Medway Maritime Hospital United Kingdom. Sila lahat hindi pumasa sa kanilang English language test kaya hindi nila nakuha ang trabaho.
That was a huge opportunity they missed all because they didn’t pass the English language test. I’m sure they were competent. I’m sure they were among the best nursing graduates in their respective Universities and Colleges. I’m sure they have values and has the right intentions. Unfortunately, these things are not enough for the people of the UK and obviously, for other first world countries.
How can a regular Filipino improve their English Skills?
I am confident to say that English is no longer difficult for me to comprehend, speak, write or read. How did I learn the language and became better (not perfect) at it? These tips can be applied by EVERY Filipinos.
Watch Movies With Subtitles
Kahit anung movie pa yan, try to watch it with a subtitle. I started doing this back when I was in high-school until today. Hindi lang yung language ang matututunan mo, pati na din kung kaylan at paano ito gamitin. Tandang-tanda ko pa nuon, tuwang tuwa ako kapag may subtitle ang movie na pinapanuod ko kasi mas naiintindihan ko yung mga pangyayari. Nabaliw din ako sa Bollywood and Korean movies/series pag tungtong ko ng college dahil sa subtitles.
Read English Novels/Books
Nung una ayaw na ayaw ko magbasa ng English books kasi parang napaka boring. Pero nung nagtagal, nakaka adik pala. Halos hindi ako tumitigil magbasa kasi napaka suspenseful. When you read books, you can easily remember and learn new words. You are developing your creativity and imagination. Dapat yung babasahin mo yung interesado ka talaga para hindi ka ma bore. Pwedeng romance, horror, thriller, mystery, at kahit ano pa. Trust me, you will never regret it.
Join or Start English Conversations
Never be afraid to use the English language. Hindi naman yan nangangagat eh. Para komportable ka, encourage your friends to speak to you in English. As for me, I was able to practice through making new friends from other countries. When I was single I used to join dating sites and chat not just for fun or for romance but for me to learn the language as well. Napaka broken pa ng English ko nuon hanggang sa unti unti naging better na.
Do Not Shortcut English
At this day and age, people try to make their text messages as short as possible. It wasn’t really beneficial for me. I started to forget the correct spelling of words and I didn’t know how to use my exclamation points anymore. If you want to become better at the English language, use it appropriately and practice it patiently.
Frequently Listen to English Music
I had a Vietnamese client before who said one of the reasons why she learned English is because she constantly listens to American music like those sung by Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Beyonce and more. If you really think about it, music can teach us what words to use when expressing our feelings. You must listen more to English music, read the lyrics, and look up what it means.
Honestly, I don’t think Filipinos will ever be 100% perfect in English simply because it is not our native language. However, we can always be better at it by listening more, reading more, and speaking more using it – I am talking to minimum wage earning Filipinos who cannot afford to pay for International schools. We can teach ourselves naman diba?!
I think its also wrong for people to say we are throwing away the Filipino language just because we want to become better at using the English language. Reality check: the world is evolving and whether we like it or not, we have to step up our game as well. We have to compete to the best of our ability and must show to the world that we can do more than what they think we can!
Short Disclaimer: I am not an expert in the English language. The tips I shared is solely based on my own learnings and experiences.