Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wow! English and the Philippine




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Well, if somebody told me that he caught a live fish in the smoking crater of an active volcano in the Sahara Desert,  I'd be very shocked. Interestingly, I learned from my close Japanese friend that  this is  exactly how a lot of Japanese people feel when they meet somebody who studied and learned English in the Philippines. 

Unknown to millions of Japanese, English is spoken in the Philippines. It is our second official language. Some might conclude  that we speak English only the Filipino way ---a mixture of Tagalog and English, very much  like JapLish for Japanese + English or KongLish for Korean + English. Well, this is not the case here in the Philippines. 

To give you an idea about how English is spoken in the Philippines, let me share some links with you. To be fair, please take time to view them. 

Our young students excel in speech competitions worldwide.

The young Filipina student in this link was 19 years old when she became the first Filipina to win the Best Speaker Award in the International Public Speaking Competition, an annual event sponsored by the English Speaking Union held in London. She defeated around  50 contestants from 37 countries. (Wikipedia)



The young Filipina being interviewed in this video was only 18 years old when she was selected to play Kim in the musical Miss Saigon in 1989. The producers of the musical could not find an East Asian  actress/singer in the United Kingdom to play the lead role, and they had held auditions in  many countries and were on the verge of giving  up before they came to the Philippines and found this brilliant woman. The producers of the show also found some other equally talented Filipinas who were later chosen to play supporting roles.  They were chosen because of their singing prowess and of course, their English ability. How could they have given justice to the English songs in the musical if they could not speak English well?


 The achievements of this woman are too many to mention, so if you want to know more about her, just type her name Lea Salonga on your search bar.

Let me begin this paragraph by saying that in most Asian countries, white-skinned women  are considered beautiful, and I agree that they are.  By WESTERN  standards, however, brown is considered beautiful and sexy, that's why in many western countries, tanning machines,  tanning lotions and sunbathing are very popular. Well, we Filipinas are brown, and this is the advantage of our representatives to  international beauty pageants. But, the skin color and the exotic beauty of our international beauty pageant contestants are not the only weapons they have. Their other effective weapon is their English fluency, their ability to answer questions in English even without an interpreter, as the following links show.



This is my favorite because this international beauty pageant was held in Tokyo Japan in 2005, and the anchorwoman with that cute voice is a Japanese! She was polite to Miss Philippines because she  said "Precious Lara Quigaman-san." The question and answer portion starts at 0:35.




And yes, even little boys in faraway countrysides sing English songs quite well. Listen to how this young boy pronounces the words, and how he conveys the emotion of the song. You can sing that way only when you  understand what you are singing, like this boy does.  This boy is amazing. 


In this link, a very famous and gracious American talk show host was amazed at this young boy. 


Why, even this kid who was playing in the street and suddenly wanted to sing nailed a Whitney Houston song, an English  song, of course.


Even our quiz bee programs are in English.




English is the second official language of the Philippines.  As I mentioned in my first article for this blog, English is used in business, religious affairs, print and broadcast media. In highly complicated subjects such as medicine, calculus, algebra, physics, chemistry, philosophy, psychology, sociology, biology and all branches of science, English is the  only medium of instruction used. English is the  language of our computers. English movies and English TV programs have no subtitles. See related post, 
English and the Philippines.

Filipino nurses are very popular and in demand in America and in Europe, not only because of their innate compassion, but also because of their ability to communicate in English. There's no need to repeat detailed instructions to them.  This is a fact. 

However, because the Philippines is a third-world country, many of our Asian neighbors are skeptical about our English ability. 

In my next blog, I will briefly discuss the history of the Philippines, why English is our second official language, and why the Philippines it's good to study English here. 
Studying English in the Philippines--Why It's The Best For All Levels


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Saturday, June 8, 2013

TOEIC and Speaking


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Myth: A person with a high TOEIC score, especially when it's over 900,  is a very good English speaker.

Reality: There are people whose TOEIC scores are really  high but can't speak English fluently. 

Conclusion: Just because a person has a high TOEIC score doesn't mean that he can speak English well. A high TOEIC score, therefore, is not the ultimate barometer of a person's English skills.

Question: So, why is it that here at ACERS, we train students to achieve a satisfactory TOEIC score? 

Answer:  This is because in Japan and in Korea, one's English ability is based on his TOEIC score. As I mentioned above, however, this is a myth and  it isn't what happens in reality.

One Korean student told me long time ago that  in their country, a person whose TOEIC score is lower than 900 should not even think about applying for a job. This is because small and big Korean companies alike entertain only those whose scores are 900 and above. I'm sure that the same is true in Japan. This is because most job interviewers and company owners don't know English either. And because they can't speak English, how in the world are they supposed to know who is good in English and who is not? It is therefore necessary to quantify an applicant's ability by referring to his or her TOEIC score, and this is how TOEIC came to be so popular in Korea and Japan.




Okay. Because a high TOEIC score is what a student wants, a high TOEIC score is what we train them to achieve. But, do we stop there? Of course, not. 

This is one of the most amazing things that any student can experience here at ACERS School. We make students  achieve a high TOEIC score AND we make  them  speak English quite fluently. A high TOEIC score plus English proficiency is every English student's dream, I know.  It's not good if a student has a high TOEIC score but doesn't have good English communication skills.

Our aim is to produce graduates who excel both in written and spoken English. And, based on the quality of  graduates that ACERS has produced, it is clear that  ACERS School has carved its trademark. 

In our next blog, I will write about the NUMBER ONE HURDLE faced by students of English: PRONUNCIATION. 


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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Drink Soup or Eat Soup?



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One student asked me why  we say "eat soup" in English, and not "drink soup". In Japanese, they say "drink soup".

The truth is, there's no grammar rule involved in this. It's just a matter of the speaker's preference. However, it is more appropriate to say "eat soup" because of several reasons. Let's start with the obvious:  First, soup is served in a bowl.--not from a drinking glass or cup, so we don't drink it. 





Second, we use a spoon or chopsticks  to put the soup into our mouths. We don't drink it the way we drink water or beer from a glass or mug.
 

The same student argued that soup is liquid, so it's more appropriate to drink it instead of to eat it. Oh yeah, he's got a point, but let's remember that soup is food, so we eat it. It's not a beverage like Coke or beer or juice, and this brings me back to my point that it is not served in a drinking glass.  

Third, soup is not just plain liquid. Soup means some liquid and some vegetables or meat that we chew and swallow. 



But as I mentioned above, there's no grammar rule that governs this. To say "drink soup" is also okay, but "to eat soup" is a lot more popular and more appropriate. It's up to you. Drink your soup if you want, eat your soup if you want. Just make sure not to spill it.







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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mount Fuji- A World Heritage

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"Mount Fuji on Verge of World Heritage Listing"

"An important UNESCO panel has recommended that World Heritage status be granted to Mount Fuji, putting the iconic peak on a direct path to registration.

Japan's tallest mountain is expected to be formally listed in June when the World Heritage Committee meets in Cambodia."
 -The Japan Times News, May 01, 2013




Mount Fuji  has always been close to my heart. Long time ago, when I was a little girl with pigtails and dusty feet,  I would often stare at the vast universe and wonder where in the world exactly Japan and Mount Fuji were. My hometown is scorching in summer, and summer was the time when I would sit under one of our mango trees munching a green mango and daydream of taking a nap on the snow-capped summit of the grand mountain. Whew.




How did I know about Mount Fuji at such a young age? Well,  learning about all  Asian countries and their cultures  was and still is an important part of the Philippine curriculum for primary schools.  From our Asian History books,  we learned the cultural symbols of Japan such as ikebana, kimono, haiku, sakura, geisha, samurai, cranes, temples, shrines,  and of course, the majestic and beautiful Mount Fuji, among other things.




Our Asian history books would often compare Mount Fuji with the Philippines' pride, ***Mount Mayon, because of its beautiful symmetrical cone, similar to Mount Fuji's. This made my young, wild and weird  imagination conclude that Fuji and Mayon were actually twin sisters who had an argument and decided to live apart. (My older sisters and I would often fight, and this somehow affected the way I imagined things, but hey...my personal life is a different story. ha ha ha.)




The inclusion of Mount Fuji on the list of World Heritage Sites will be a giant leap for Japan. This will make people from all over the world get interested in Mount Fuji, which means further growth of tourism in this beautiful country.

Indeed, when Mount Fuji is formally approved as a World Heritage Site in June, I will be one of the first people to rejoice.

More information about Mayon Volcano
***Mayon Volcano is the landmark of Albay, a beautiful province in the southeastern  part of Luzon Island. Albay province is 12 hours away by bus from Manila.

Like Mount Fuji, Mayon Volcano  is a stratovolcano and it is known for its almost perfect cone. It is the most active volcano in the Philippines, and it has erupted 48 times in the past 400 years, according to Wikipedia. Its most destructive eruption occurred on February 1, 1814. It  buried Cagsawa, a thriving town where a big church once stood. After the said eruption, only the tower of the church was not buried. The tower is still there today, and it is now called Cagsawa Ruins.


                                         Mayon Volcano

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Short Stories

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Story Number 1

Not so long ago I had a student who said  that the difference  between L and R sounds doesn't matter, and  the following conversation ensued:




Me:           So, do you like to eat natto with insects?

Student:     What do you mean?

Me:           (speaking slowly, showing  the position of my tongue and enunciating L and R) Well, if you say that the difference between L and R sounds doesn't matter,  then you can eat natto with LICE. I don't want to eat natto with lice. That's yucky. I want to eat natto with RICE;  that's yummy. 



If you go to a restaurant and order natto with rice, this is what they will give you:


RICE


 If you go to a restaurant and order natto with lice, this is what they will give you:  



LICE

Not knowing the difference between L and R can lead to a yucky situation.


Story Number 2
I don't know how true the following short story is,  but this was told by my foreign students (not Japanese) sometime in 2011. 




One young man bought an umbrella that looked like a katana.  It was dark, and because the umbrella looked like a real katana, a policeman stopped the young man.  

"Please! Please!", the policeman shouted.
"Please, what? What?", the young man shouted back and hurriedly walked to the policeman with the katana umbrella in his hand. 

The policeman shot the young man's right foot.




Why?! 
Because the policeman did not say Please, like what the young man thought. The policeman  actually said "Freeze!" which means stay where you are, don't move. 

Had the young man identified P from F and L from R, he wouldn't have been shot. 

See? Not being able to identify and produce the right sound can lead to a dangerous situation.

Avoid dangerous or disgusting situations. Come to ACE, we'll work on your pronunciation. 






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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dear Reader...,

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Dear Reader,

You and your friend had to dig a well 6 feet deep. The two of you eagerly started working at 6 in the morning. You worked hard, you did not even have a break. At the end of the day you were both  exhausted and sweaty...but you and your friend realized that you managed to dig only a foot, and you were frustrated. And then you realized that you used a spoon in digging, and your friend used the handle of the shovel instead of its cutting edge.




What's the point? Just because you are working hard does not always mean that you can achieve your goal. Just because you study English very hard and memorize a lot of sentences and words does not mean that you are good at speaking English.

You can say that you know English only when you can communicate in the said language both in written and spoken way.

Unfortunately, a lot of people just do things without wondering if it's the right thing to do.  Because they have been taught that learning  to memorize words, sentences and grammar rules is the best way to learn English,  they just memorize words and sentences and go on memorizing more words and sentences. Oh yes, some people can use the words and sentences they memorized, but they sound phony and mechanical. You can't be sounding phony and mechanical in the real world, especially in the business world. You can't be using the same words and sentences with different people in different situations. You've got to be able to express yourself in English naturally, and this is possible only when you have a full grasp of the language. The full grasp of English can't be achieved through memorization.




It's a very simple logic: if your method of learning English can't make you speak English, then it's time to get rid of your method and try a new one. It doesn't hurt to try.

If you are too scared or too conservative to try other things, you can never discover new horizons, you can never grow. It's not a good choice to just accept what has been told you. It's always good to investigate.

What's the best way to choose a school? Check the English ability of the owner and the teachers. If they can speak English well, then, they must be in the position to tell you how to study English.  They will teach you English the way they learned English.

Will you ask a person to build your house if that person can not even erect a post? Will you trust somebody to teach you English if that person has difficulty expressing his thoughts in English?

Will you ask a lawyer to perform brain surgery on you? A person in his right mind won't do that.  A lawyer, no matter how good he is in his field, can not perform a brain surgery. In the same manner,  will you ask a businessperson to teach you English? A businessperson is not the same as an educator. A businessperson's interest is profit; an educator's interest is your progress in English.

There are  various  factors why a lot of students are frustrated in learning English. Studying English is not frustrating.  It's enjoyable and fulfilling if it is done the right way.

At ACERS, everything is done right.

Cordially yours,

ACERS


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