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Road map for ESL industry

Sun.Star Cebu <> Thursday, July 9, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

IN a bid to make Cebu an international hub for English language learning, private and public stakeholders will develop and implement a “road map” to bolster the interest of potential international students to learn English in Cebu.

The road map, which is part of the Cebu Hub of English Language Excellence Project, will bring together individuals and key people from the Provincial Government, local government units, the academe and government agencies like the Department of Tourism and Department of Education. In a meeting next month, they will identify Cebu’s strengths and discuss issues hounding the English learning and teaching sector.

“There is a (global) shift now; more and more international students (turn) to speakers of English as a second language, like the Filipinos, for English training (instead of hiring) Americans, Canadians, and other nationalities who primarily speak English,” said Paul Robertson, Asian EFL (English as a Foreign Language) Journal chief executive officer.

One factor for this shift, he said, is the huge influx of Korean tourists in the Philippines. He added that these tourists come to the country to immerse in “long and intense” training on English.

But he observed that the Philippines, particularly Cebu, is not yet ready for the “sudden, massive” demand for Filipino ESL (English as a second language) or Tesol (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) teachers due to the lack of organization and regulation in the industry, as well as the shortage of affordable teachers’ training courses in ESL or Tesol.

Best practices

“If we don’t start the project now, other countries will do it, like India and China,” warned Robertson.

The road mapping for the project will consider the best practices of the Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information Technology (Cedf-it) in organizing the IT players in Cebu sd Cebu positions itself to be an IT hub.

Once Cebu has established itself as a global hub for English learning, Robertson said it would be easy for local stakeholders to get more international students from the Middle East, Japan, China, and Taiwan.

“Cebu should not concentrate its English learning and teaching facilities on Korean students but also on other nationalities, especially the Chinese,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.

Robertson said he will propose during the meeting with local stakeholders the possibility of attracting more foreign investors to consider Cebu as a potential area for ESL schools that can be operated by local staff and teachers.

“They can even make their schools exclusive for the people of their countries. With more investors putting up more schools for ESL, more schools would also be specializing in specific areas such as business English and tourism English to attract students,” Robertson said.

Several potential investors, he said, are coming to Cebu on Aug. 8 to attend the Cebu International Tesol Conference at Diplomat Hotel, Cebu City.

About 300 persons, including English teachers and educators-to-be, are expected to attend the conference that is organized by the Tesol Philippines, Asian EFL Group, and Time Taylor International Ltd.

Asian EFL Journal is an academic second language acquisition research journal and business entity under Time Taylor, an Australian company registered in Korea.

Filed under: Business, Education, Employment, Tourism

SkyCable launches high-speed Net packages

Sun.Star Cebu <> Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

IN response to the clamor for faster Internet access, the Cebu unit of a national cable company launched last week high download speed packages of up to 12 megabytes per second (mbps) in Cebu.

The Lopez-owned SkyCable Corp. already tested SkyBroadband plans in Manila last year and went full blast last January.

Last Oct. 1, SkyCable Cebu began offering these packages to its cable subscribers in the province and received “encouraging” feedback, said SkyCable area director for the Visayas Ronnie Pacio in an interview with Sun.Star Cebu.

Instead of using phone lines, SkyBroadband uses SkyCable infrastructure to connect to the Internet. Cable lines can carry more data and offer higher bandwidth.

SkyBroadband packages include Plan 1.5 mbps (with monthly subscription fee of P1,199), Plan 3 mbps (P2,499), Plan 6 mbps (P4,999), and Plan 12 mbps (P6,999).

Pacio said that their highest plan is four times faster than any residential DSL (digital subscriber line).

The total initial payment for Plan 1.5 mbps and Plan 3 mbps is P2,199 and P3,499, respectively, due to the P1,000 cable modem deposit upon installation. Cable modem is free under Plans 6 mbps and 12 mbps.

All plans are covered by a one-year lock-in period.

Installation for all packages is free.

Users of SkyBroadband Plan 1.5 mbps and Plan 3 mbps will also get P175 discount on their P675 monthly SkyCable subscription fee. The two higher speed packages are product bundles that include both Internet access and free SkyCable subscription.

All SkyBroadband packages-considered as SkyCable’s value-added service-are exclusive to its cable subscribers in selected Cebu areas in Banawa, Banilad, Cabancalan, Cebu Business Park, Consolacion, Capitol Site, Guadalupe, Labangon, Lapu-Lapu City, Mabolo, Ma. Luisa Estate Park, Mandaue City, P. Del Rosario in Cebu City, and Talamban.

“The highest speed of DSL plans being offered by other broadband providers is only 3 mbps. SkyBroadband packages ensure faster connections and less time consumption. Users can do many things on the Internet in one (sitting),” said Pacio.

He added that they already have nearly 1,000 SkyBroadband subscribers who are coming from the middle- and high-income brackets.

Pacio said that when the company has enough funding, they will expand to more areas until they can cover the entire Cebu.

Since March 2008 when SkyCable Cebu offered its first cable Internet called ZPDee, the company has allocated around P30 million to upgrade its plant for its broadband project.

Pacio said that one-third of this P30 million is not yet spent since they are still waiting for equipment from Manila to further upgrade its plant’s capacity and be able to cover more areas in Cebu.

After SkyBroadband is established in Cebu, SkyCable Cebu is planning to bring the digital signal to the province next year as part of its strategy to shift its technology from analog to digital and offer affordable packages to more price-sensitive markets. NRC

Filed under: Business, Education, Fun/Entertainment, IT/Computers/Software Development, Small and Medium Enterprises, , , ,

Tutoring service eyes more outlets in RP, maintains upbeat outlook

Sun.Star Cebu <> Monday, June 29, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

THE master franchise of a US-based tutoring service is optimistic about its operations in Cebu, even though consumers have become prudent as a result of the global financial crisis.

Rico Bautista said the Tutoring Club is strategically located in Cebu, which is the home of many good schools and entrepreneurs.

In a press conference last week, Bautista said that putting up a franchised outlet in Cebu—the first outside Metro Manila—can lead to more franchises in key cities in the Visayas and Mindanao, such as Cagayan de Oro and Davao.

He observed that with Cebu’s economic growth, there might be room for three Tutoring Club outlets in the future. But he said there is no timetable for these yet.

“We still have to identify (the sites),” he added.

Tutoring Club is a tutoring service that aims to help pre-school, grade school and high school students improve their skills in math, reading and writing. Tutoring Club uses methods developed in the United States.

The service was introduced in the Philippines in May 2007. At present, there are 11 Tutoring Club outlets in the country, including one in Cebu.

Bautista said that all the centers have combined enrollees of more than 500. About 75 percent of the enrollees are elementary students.

Bautista explained that the elementary level is the best time for children to master basic skills that are building blocks for more advanced lessons.

The Tutoring Club has helped more than 700 students, he said.

“We aim to raise a student’s skills set a level higher within 32 hours. We also offer goal-setting (strategies) for those who would come to us but have already mastered their basic academic skills,” said Tutoring Club Philippines president Inday Mallari.

Before the formal opening of its Cebu franchise at the Banilad Town Center (BTC) last June 26, Tutoring Club received more than 100 inquiries.

Tutoring Club-Cebu center director Jogen Mil said this shows that parents in Cebu prioritize education and do not mind costs related to it.

The first Cebu franchise center at BTC is owned by Cebu-based company Cebu TLC Trigo.

“Cebu puts emphasis on education, so it is a natural fit with what we offer and what Cebu needs,” said Tutoring Club Philippines consultant and business analyst Martin Bautista.

Filed under: Business, Education, Franchising

Cebu’s English skills can lure foreign students

Sun.Star Cebu <> Monday, June 8, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

IF Cebu wants to establish itself as a center for English excellence, stakeholders have to work together to address several issues, which include “fly-by-night” schools that offer English language lessons to foreign nationals.

To provide a venue for stakeholders to discuss issues and plan strategies, Tesol Philippines, Asian EFL (English as a Foreign Language) Group and Time Taylor International Ltd. will host an international Tesol (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) conference in Cebu in August (not next month, as reported).

The event is part of the groups’ bid to market Cebu as an international hub for English language learning.

The conference will gather more than 20 “world leaders in second language acquisition and learning.” Among them are professors Rod Ellis of New Zealand, Phyllis Chew of Singapore, Z. N. Patil from India and Carlo Magno of De La Salle University in Manila.

Asian EFL Journal chief executive officer Paul Robertson said the conference is the first step to show to Cebu what should be done to become a hub of English learning excellence.

“Cebu is becoming known as an international destination where nationalities like Koreans, Chinese and Japanese prefer to go to learn English,” he said in a phone interview.

But he said the sector that is engaged in the business of providing English language lessons to foreign nationals is beset with problems that include the lack of centralized control on fly-by-night businesses run by foreign nationals in the province.
Robertson also raised the need for more quality schools and training centers.

He said around 400 persons, including English teachers and educators-to-be, are expected to attend the international Tesol conference that is being supported by Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, The Leeds Foundation and Cebu business groups.

“This will be an annual event. Next year, we will be planning a week-long Tesol convention (here),” he added.

On Aug. 10, Robertson is scheduled to meet public officials and representatives from the academe to discuss the implementation of a plan to make Cebu as hub of English language excellence. The plan is meant to enable Cebu to attract 30,000 to 100,000 international students every month.

Asian EFL Journal is an academic second language acquisition research journal and business entity under Time Taylor International Ltd., an Australian company registered in Korea.

Filed under: Business, Education, Tourism

Auto dealer, school ink training program for students, teachers

Sun.Star Cebu <> Tuesday, June 2, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

MITSUBISHI Motors Philippines Corp. and its authorized dealer Fast Autoworld Philippines Corp. designed a program to enhance and upgrade the theories, skills and competencies of automotive instructors at the Cebu State College of Science and Technology (CSCST).

Under the program called Industry Immersion of Automotive Technology Instructors of CSCST, the college will send automotive technology instructors as faculty-trainees and its graduating students as on-the-job trainees (OJTs) in Mitsubishi’s facilities.

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines will provide venue and training to faculty-trainees on various competencies, including automotive electricity and electronics, electronic-controlled fuel inject, engine overhauling and performance testing, automatic transmission, and powertrain, among others.

At the same time, Fast Autoworld will help CSCST improve its training center.

The three institutions signed an agreement last week at Fast Autoworld Philippines Cebu office and showroom in Mandaue City.


“There is a need to upgrade their knowledge now that we are using high-tech automotive technology, such as laptops or computers in troubleshooting (cars),” said Matronillo Zamora, Fast Autoworld general manager for parts and service.

The program will accommodate a total of 12 trainees—members of CSCST faculty and OJTs—every year.

Every course for the faculty-trainees will run for a week while OJTs will undergo training for 10 months or an equivalent of 1,800 hours.

“This is a good (length of time) because the students will become skilled (technicians). At the same time, we are grooming them to become service advisers,” said Fast Autoworld human resource manager Flordeliza Tangpus.

She said the company is keen on getting OJTs from among students of four-year Industrial Technology course with emphasis on automotive technology.

“CSCST is not necessarily exclusive to Mitsubishi since they also provide OJTs to other car manufacturers. But we want to be given priority and their top students,” she said.

Student-trainees who perform well are guaranteed to find work at Mitsubishi Motors Philipines after they complete their studies.

Fast Autoworld Philippines Corp. will also give out a Mitsubishi Excellence Award to deserving outstanding automotive graduates.

Possible career path for these OJTs, said Zamora, is from technician to lead man to service adviser and, eventually, to service manager.

He lamented, however, that many skilled automotive technicians prefer to work in Australia, Singapore or Canada.

Filed under: Business, Education, Fun/Entertainment, IT/Computers/Software Development

‘Encourage students to think like entrepreneurs’

Sun.Star Cebu <> Tuesday, June 2, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

ACADEMIC institutions should train college students to think like entrepreneurs and educate them on the potential of using their creative skills into a business.

This was the recommendation made by Nestor Jardin, president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

In his talk during the recent Management Association of the Philippines-Asian Institute Management (MAP-AIM) Management Educators Workshop, Jardin urged school representatives to consider integrating arts education in their management curriculum to complement a “whole-brain” approach learning that will enable students to become innovative

With the demand for events managers today, for instance, professor Mario Antonio Lopez of AIM said that colleges and universities may want to develop programs for students who want to go into the profession.

“But before mounting new units or programs, we have to understand first what the (creative) industry is,” he said.

Jardin said that the global creative industry that encompasses cultural, scientific, technological and economic aspects is expected to earn $6.1 trillion in 2020 from $3.04 trillion in 2005.

He cited China and Singapore as among the Asian countries that are “way ahead” in the creative industry after taking huge advances, such as transforming old factories into works of art and building successful creative parks.

Jardin pointed out that export of cultural goods globally had increased from $227 billion in 1996 to $424 billion in 2005 while export of creative services grew by 8.8 percent per annum for the same period.

“We have to ride on this global trend. We (should) address the creative industry as an integral part of the academe,” he said.

He said indicators that support this trend include favorable global trends, manageable capitalization needs, growth in local consumption, availability of Filipino talents and abundance of unique natural resources.

Cebu-based artists, the government and nongovernment groups have taken steps in formalizing the local creative sector and helped the province’s economy amid the global financial crisis.

Jardin also urged concerned stakeholders to come up with a study that will determine the potentials and impact of the creative industry in the country. These are needed when drafting funding proposals to politicians, he added.

Filed under: Business, Education, Entrepreneurship, Small and Medium Enterprises

Schools told to improve students’ English skills, internship program

Sun.Star Cebu <> Monday, June 1, 2009

BY NANCY R. CUDIS, Sun.Star Staff Reporter

A MANAGEMENT practitioner urged colleges and universities to coordinate with accounting firms and develop a “robust” on-the-job training program for their students.

Medel Nera, partner of SyCip Gorres Velayo (SGV) & Co., said that an accounting internship program should be “responsive” to the needs of the students and “beneficial” to both the academe and the industry.

He pointed out that the entry of interns into firms happen in March and April, which are considered the busiest months of the year for professional services companies like SGV & Co.

“(Due to) this, we could not give a lot of attention to the students as much as we want to. Also, we don’t want to show the students the hardest part of our work because we don’t want to frighten them,” said Nera, also vice-president of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP).

During last week’s MAP-Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Management Educators Workshop (MEW), he told more than 100 workshop participants to come up with an internship program that is scheduled during the “slack” season of companies so that interns will be mentored well.

Dr. Edgardo Detoya, University of San Jose-Recoletos College of Commerce dean, said it is easier to deploy inters to small accounting firms as big companies tend to be “over protective” of clients’ information.

Nera said that while the issue is “surmountable,” company clients are “not quite receptive” to the idea that interns will be working on their data.

The SGV official also poin-ted out that the academe should ensure that students, who eventually go into internship, have good command of the English language.

“Accounting firms are built to train and enhance the technical aspect of employee development, but (mastery of) English, which takes a while to learn, should start earlier (in his education),” he said.

Educators, who expressed interest in deploying their interns to big accounting firms in Manila and other areas, raised the issue of lack of funds. Nera said financial support can be arranged with professional services companies.

Mario Antonio Lopez, vice-chair for MEW and AIM professor, suggested that educators coordinate with the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants on how to formalize the internship system that will both address the period of internship and funding needs.

Nera lamented, however, that some interns—after learning from SGV & Co.—prefer to migrate or join the competition.

Nera was one of the speakers during the business conference for management practitioners and educators, organized by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Filed under: Business, Education, Employment


This is a personal site that contains my news articles on Cebu, local tourism, investments, real estate, small and medium enterprises, and many more! Some entries tackle personal thoughts and experiences as a business writer covering the Cebu business community. Enjoy your time here. And I hope to hear from you! -NANCY R. CUDIS

NRC: a Cebuano scribe

NANCY R. CUDIS writes for herself (a pastime), for her family (a source of income), and for the Cebu community (a sense of duty). For inquiries or invitations to cover events related to Cebu, you may contact her through her e-mail:

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