Hotspot for learning English
Since the start of the new millennium, Baguio has been populated with what ESL learners would call “English academies” – a term brought about by the boom of the trend of studying English. According to the Bureau of Immigration (BI), the ESL industry prospered too fast that from 50 individuals from HELP’s vacation camp, foreign students reached to an outstanding 15,000 in 2006. Until recently, the number has reached around 22,000 that the BI Baguio Office has even ranked 2nd for having the highest visa fee collection next to Cebu. At present, there are around 38 academies that offer ESL programs, TESOL courses, as well as review courses for the different English testing systems. These programs are not isolated to South Koreans anymore since Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Arabs, Africans, and Europeans have also discovered Baguio for this purpose.
If students from other provinces come to Baguio for its cool climate, the same can also be said for the foreign nationals who study English in the city. Apart from that, these ESL learners are attracted to the environment of Baguio – the serene countryside atmosphere but with enough venues for recreation and entertainment. Though Baguio is not as developed as the nation’s capital, Manila, it has sufficient establishments and basic services to cater to the needs of various types of students. Signage for apartments and houses for rent are everywhere and stalls for meals, snacks and drinks have sprouted like mushrooms. The same goes for computer shops, printing shops, and 24-hour convenience stores. Moreover, as the city gets more crowded with foreign students, restaurants and grocery stores specifically catering to them also flourish quite well.
More importantly, Baguio has transformed into a hotspot for learning English because its teachers are molded to master the language and are trained to specifically educate ESL learners of different nationalities. Despite their not being native speakers, these teachers are always given venues and support to improve their skills as well as to ensure quality education to students.
Communicating in English has become natural among the people of Baguio since the language was taught by missionaries in the 1900s. Whether a student stays for a few months for ESL or lives in the city to finish a four-year course, it has always been easy to communicate to the people of Baguio, adapt to a new environment and apply what is learned in class.