English students flock to Philippines for low cost, sunshine

English students flock to Philippines for low cost, sunshine
Maria Dobroskokina, left, studies English at a school on Cebu.

MANILA - The Philippines is becoming a popular destination for the study of English. It offers good teachers, inexpensive lessons, and lots of beaches that students can enjoy when they are not in class. As more companies in Asia and elsewhere see English as vital to their globalisation strategies, the island nation is likely to keep pulling in students.

South Korean and Japanese school operators were some of the first to discover what the Philippines offers as a place of study: low costs and a high standard of English among Filipinos, thanks to the status of English as an official language. These companies opened language schools in the Philippines to accommodate their own nationals. Today, low fees for private lessons attract students from a variety of countries, including Russia and China.

Warm environment

Maria Dobroskokina, 25, from Volgograd in southern Russia, enrolled in QQEnglish school on the island of Cebu in January. Back home, she worked for a newspaper, but she wanted to study abroad to improve her English. The UK and Malta are popular destinations for Russians to study abroad, but they are not cheap. A little research online led her to the school on Cebu.

"On Cebu, the total cost, including accommodation and daily expenses, is about a half that of Malta. I was able to afford one-on-one lessons. I feel I made big progress with my English in four months here," said Dobroskokina. The country's easy visa application and warm weather are also a plus for Russian students.

According to the QQEnglish, which is operated by a Japanese company, the number of non-Japanese students began to rise several years ago. In 2014, students from China, Taiwan and Russia accounted for 20 per cent of its students. Staff from those countries help to bring in more students, along with Internet advertising and word of mouth.

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