This week’s featured article
Ahead of a change to university entrance exams that places more focus on speaking abilities, as well as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, a growing number of Japanese are opting to travel to the Philippines to study English at a low cost.
The number of Japanese visitors to the Philippines has steadily risen in the past few years, reaching 584,180 in 2017 — up 9.1 percent from a year earlier. The increase has been supported by demand from students and services industry workers who want to put themselves in an English-speaking environment.
“The number of travelers aiming to study English (in the Philippines) is surging. About 100 Japanese junior high and high schools implemented study-abroad programs in 2017,” said an official at the Tokyo office of the Philippines Department of Tourism in a telephone interview.
Many are choosing the Philippines to study English because of the language’s official status and the nation’s geographical proximity to Japan compared with other English-speaking countries, as well as relatively low study and living expenses.
Cram schools as well as regular Japanese schools such as Ritsumeikan Uji Junior High School, an affiliate of Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, now send their students to Philippine schools during school vacations.
The government plans to overhaul the English-language test for standardized university entrance exams for those who enroll in the academic year starting in April 2021, so in addition to reading and listening there will also be much more emphasis on speaking and writing.
Service industries are also contributing to the rise, with some firms dispatching their employees for English training programs in preparation for the Tokyo Games.
The Philippines is closer to Japan and less costly than Singapore and Malaysia, said Masaaki Shibata, an official responsible for human resources management at MK Co., a Kyoto-based taxi and limousine operator. In addition to similar programs in Australia and Britain, MK initiated a training program in the Philippines in 2015.
First published in The Japan Times on March 6.
One-minute chat about studying.
Collect words related to English, e.g., language, class, TOEIC.
1) implement: put into practice, e.g., “The school implemented a new policy targeting bullying.”
2) overhaul: examine and repair, e.g., “We need to overhaul our website.”
Guess the headline
More Japanese head to P_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ to study English on a b_ _ _ _ _
1) Why is the Philippines so popular for English learners?
2) What is going to happen to college entrance exams?
3) Why is the demand for English increasing in the service industry?
Let’s discuss the article
1) How do you, or how did you, study English?
2) What do you think of the idea of going to the Philippines to learn English?
3) Where would you most like to go to learn English?
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