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Cebu SunStar

The Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 is hoping to attract more Japanese professionals to learn English, following the successful training of four senior high school Japanese teachers in Cebu.

Endorsed by Japan’s Ministry of Education, Makiko Taniguchi of Setakita Junior High School; Takahiro Sugiyama of Seta Junior High School; Yuri Kimura of Nango Junior High School; and Yayoi Tanaka of Shiga Junior High School embarked on a two-week English language training at the Pacific Tree International Language Academy in Mandaue City.

They were the first batch of teachers sent by the Japanese government for an overseas language training to increase and meet the English language proficiency level set by their country’s Ministry of Education.

They arrived last July 31 and will return to Japan tomorrow.

more Japanese professionals to learn English in Cebu

Cebu’s proximity to Japan--a four and a half hour direct flight--with a time difference of only one hour, attractive ESL price point, abundance of natural tourism spots and warm and highly-skilled English teachers were among the reasons Japanese professionals chose to learn English in Cebu.

Singapore is the Philippines closest competitor as an ESL destination in Asia, while New Zealand and Australia are the popular countries most Japanese students and professionals go to to learn English.

An English language course lasting several weeks, including accommodation and meals, costs between $800 and $1,600, less than half the cost of similar programs in the US or Europe, according to ICEF Monitor, a dedicated market intelligence resource for the international education industry.

The Japanese high school teachers had a special training course where they spent 10 hours learning English a day. They were also exposed to group discussions and were engaged in one-on-one English classes. They also embarked on a city tour to explore historical sites in Cebu City.

“This is another opportunity to showcase that Cebu is not only an ESL destination for foreign students but also to professionals. We hope to have a steady partnership with the Japanese government in terms of sending more professionals for English study and increase awareness for other countries that we have good ESL schools here that can accommodate them,” said Montecillo.

After this group, Cebu will welcome about 200 MKT Japanese taxi drivers next week and 18 medical professionals from Fujita Health University (FHU) in October to learn and improve English as well as understand the medical practices of other foreign countries.

According to Montecillo, the move to send professionals to learn English is part of Japan’s preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where it will host thousands of foreign players.

The Japanese capital will be the first Asian city to host the Olympics twice, having also hosted the 1964 Games. Japan will be hosting its fourth Olympics. Sapporo and Nagano hosted the 1972 and 1998 Winter Games, respectively.

“Cebu is an ideal place to study English because you’ve got highly-qualified English teachers who will patiently train you,” said Kimura.

“Filipino teachers are happy people. They are always smiling,” said Sugiyama. “What they taught me are things that I wanted to learn,” added Tanaka.

Pacific Tree International Language Academy is a Cambridge Teaching Knowledge Test (TKT) recognized language school. Of its 10 teachers, five of them are TKT certified professionals.

The school has handled a number of foreign students and professionals from Taiwan, China, Czech Republic, Korea, Russia, and Germany, among others.

Japanese students taking up ESL in Cebu stay the longest, from six months to one year. There are also some who stay for only a week.

But compared to other foreign markets, the Japanese are considered high-spenders and usually engage in high-spending activities like diving and other aqua sports.

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