Philippines ESL Maintains Edge in Korean Market

The Philippines ESL schools continue to be one of the best places to learn English as far as the Korean student market is concerned.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) shared that over 100 thousand Koreans flew to the country last year for various English as a Second Language (ESL) programs and other study tours.

The Department expects this number to increase significantly this year, as attested by the quality and quantity of inquiries it received during the recent 26th Korea Student and Emigration Fair held at the Convention and Exhibition Center in Seoul, Korea.

According to The Philippine Secretary of Tourism, “The Korean overseas learning sector accounts for around five million people. This includes mainly those who want to acquire skills that will help them participate in the global economy. The Philippines ESL participation at the Korea Student Fair focused on claiming a bigger share of this highly specialized group. It further served as the top venue for our partner educational institutions to see up close the demand and the opportunities that come with it.”

The 26th Korea Student and Emigration Fair is considered the main event for Korean students, parents and teachers looking into learning prospects abroad. It is further touted as the one-stop-shop for information and advice on overseas study from experienced Korean and foreign educators. Interested parties may also book into the many outbound learning tours available during the two-day expo.

The spring edition of this biannual expo saw more than 50,000 visitors walking through the stalls of 671 exhibitors from 20 countries.

The Philippine ESL participation included representatives from the Philippine Embassy in Korea and Philippine Airlines. Partner educational institutions showcasing their ESL programs were Best Cella, Cebu Pacific International Language School, MTM Cebu Languages Institute, E-Deun Academy, Lingua Inter Pret Academy, Enderun College and I Can Language Center.



To further encourage more tourists, Philippine Airlines raffled out round-trip tickets to those who have confirmed their enrollment into any of the Philippine study-abroad packages.

“Students took up 17 percent of the 653,310 Koreans who came to the country in 2007. The Department and our partners in the private sector are working towards building up our presence as the top-of-mind preference of overseas ESL learning. Conversely, the tourism and educational industries need to further improve the level of our facilities and services, such as discouraging fly-by-night operations and ensuring the safety of our visitors,” Durano elaborated.

Philippines ESL programs from schools based in Baguio, Manila, Iloilo, Cagayan Valley and Cebu are currently the most popular.

The Korean overseas study market can be broken down in three categories. The first group comprises of youth who enroll in two-month Philippines ESL programs that coincide with their summer or winter breaks. The second set makes up of students who enter into the regular course offerings of international schools and universities in the Philippines.

The third and most specialized outbound segment includes Koreans who intend to learn English used in particular fields, such as medicine and nursing. Packages for Philippines ESL as applied in golf, diving and other areas of interest are also in the menu of several tour wholesalers.

“Our close proximity to their home country and competitive package prices make the Philippines ESL a top choice among Korean students. These two factors make it easy for them to have a parent accompany them, which they consider very important,” shared Korea-based Tourism Attaché Maricon Ebron.

Pam Samaniego, DOT Team Korea Marketing Head, added, “The fact that seeing many English-speaking Filipinos, especially in the cities where ESL for foreigners are offered, further brings up their level of confidence in choosing the Philippines.”

Korea is currently the country’s top source of foreign arrivals. A total of 126,354 Korean nationals landed in the Philippines between January and February this year, making up 22.1 percent of over-all tourist traffic.


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