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Why are filipinos failing in English?

That the Supreme Court in an en banc vote of 9-6 denied the petition of former secretary of justice now Senator Leila de Lima for lack of merit in questioning the jurisdiction of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court in the issuance of a warrant for her arrest because she is a senator. This case is now in our legal jurisprudence. The SC also rejected the senator's argument that her criminal case for violation against the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act should be dismissed. This means that De Lima should stay in jail while waiting for her trial to commence.

Again what can we say, but that De Lima is suffering from a bad case of karma. We will never forget that under her watch as justice secretary, she caused the incarceration of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in an Army hospital. Later when a human rights group ordained that the detention of former the president deprived her of her human rights, De Lima did not care to listen and the former president was kept in detention until the ascension of President Rodrigo "Digong" Duterte into office. So now it's De Lima's turn to be kept in jail during the pendency of her case.

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We know that the Philippines belongs to the top ten Business Process Outsourcing companies all over the world, although Cebu has moved away from the top ten, at least we are still there. This is why these days you will see many young men and women (we call them Millennials) who speak English - sometimes with an American twang - who are now in the BPO industry.

But are we really speaking the proper English the way it should be spoken? I could not help but notice a news item from the Philippine Star last September 27 that blared with this embarrassing headline, which screamed, "88% of Filipino nurses recruited by UK hospital fail English test." I say that this is embarrassing because the Philippines have always been considered one of the nations in the world that spoke English as a major language. More so here in Asia where we have English language newspapers and TV Programs.

In a report that I got from my Facebook page, it read, "According to a report by The Times, 52 out of 59 nurses from the Philippines who were recruited to work at Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham during a recruitment fair in Manila failed an English language test. A spokesperson of the NHS Foundation Trust that manages the Medway Maritime hospital said that nurses who flunked the rigorous exam plan to retake the test. The recruitment came after the hospital's move to fill up its vacancies by bringing in 200 Filipino nurses on board.

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A separate report by KentOnline said that applicants who would successfully pass the string of tests are promised with "£3,000 recruitment and retention bonus paid over 26 months, flexible working hours, and a relocation loan." The amount is equivalent to P204,000 at P68 per British pound. Nurses hailing outside of the European Union countries require to pass an exam arranged by the Medway Nursing and Midwifery Council that includes oral, reading, writing and listening tests to guarantee that they can communicate effectively."

No doubt that the demand for Filipino nurses continues to grow every year as older nurses who are already working in UK are set to retire. Mind you, this is also true to other professions, especially those who want to work as teachers abroad. So the big question is, why are Filipinos failing in English, which is a language that Filipinos do not find difficult to speak? Are we to blame the educational system or the Commission on Higher Education? Is there any deeper problem at all?

I would like to believe that the problem lies in society itself. First of all, Filipinos love to watch our TV Network's "Teleserye" which as you all know is in Tagalog. When they go to work, those Filipinos talk about what they saw on TV and they speak in the vernacular. Apparently Filipinos do not speak at each other in English because they find it shameful. But I believe that practice makes perfect. So if we do not exhort each other to speak English, then our students or workers will always fail when they have to take the exam in English.

vsbobita@mozcom.com.

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