More foreign students return to Cebu for English as Second Language courses

CEBU’S market source for English as Second Language (ESL) has now expanded with the addition of Vietnam and Taiwan.

Gelena Asis-Dimpas, chief tourism operations officer of DOT 7, in an interview, said students from these two new markets are now flocking to Cebu joining other nationalities from Japan, South Korea and China in learning English here.

“These are new markets for us. They’re robust,” said Dimpas. “In fact, there is one ESL school here that is focusing on Taiwanese students alone.”

Dimpas agreed that the accessibility and presence of direct flights to these countries make Cebu their top ESL choice aside from the province having time and tested universities that until now produce high-quality English teachers.

“In the Philippines, we are competing with Baguio City but Cebu makes up 70 percent of the country’s ESL market,” she said. Clark in Pampanga is also catching up.

Since the reopening of the economies and lifting of travel restrictions ESL schools in Cebu are now back on track.

“There are more than 30 ESL schools that have opened. And there’s a lot more that are reopening,” Dimpas said.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Cebu logged more than 100 ESL schools.

The first to resume after the pandemic was a group of 50 students from Nagoya, Japan who arrived in 2022. Since then, the DOT 7 has been welcoming students that come in groups to learn ESL.

“ESL is an important market for us because they are long-staying guests. There are ESL programs that are as short as three weeks and as long as three months. That’s why we are supporting this growing market,” she said. “Now, the challenge that we are facing is to announce to these market sources that Cebu’s ESL is back on its feet.”

On Feb. 13 to 18, 2023, the Cebu Association of Language Academy in partnership with DOT 7 spearheaded a familiarization tour composed of 15 education agents from Japan. The tour features a presentation of the academic program and package offering of the member schools, including the state-of-the-art facilities and resort-like amenities of their campuses.

The business-to-business session on the fourth day allowed schools to address specific queries about their teaching-learning models that are on par with international standards.

After Japan, there will be upcoming familiarization tours of education agents also from South Korea and China.