Filipino English Teachers: Messengers between China and the Philippines
“During the past decade, Filipino teachers have risen to become one of the most popular foreign teaching groups in China,” said Jack Huang, founder of 51Talk, a Chinese leading online English education platform, in his keynote speech at the celebration of 51Talk’s 10th anniversary. “As the online education industry matures, Filipino teachers are expected to play a bigger role in the future, both for 51Talk and bilateral exchanges.”
To mark the 10-year milestone, 51Talk recently held its 10 Years Certified: Strategy Conference 2021 in Beijing, China to update its stakeholders about their education innovation initiatives and future plans to enhance the user experience for teachers and students alike.
Since last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a grave challenge to the economic activity of international community, and the Philippines was no exception. Against the backdrop of high unemployment rates and a sluggish economy, 51Talk announced in May 2020 that it would provide job opportunities for 30,000 Filipino online English teachers.
Zeeryl Vivi, a home-based teacher at 51Talk, shared her story at the conference attended by international and Chinese press and education stakeholders. According to her, she considers 51Talk a blessing.
“Living in a small city, there are a few opportunities available to me. 51Talk allowed me to live my life to the fullest while also enjoying a few niceties once in a while,” the 24-year-old teacher said, adding that “through online English education between Filipino teachers and Chinese students, a deep connection and digital bridge of friendship is being built.”
Zeeryl is one of the thousands of 51Talk teachers who have shared how grateful they are about their home-based teaching throughout the pandemic by sharing their harvests and experiences using the hashtag #51TalkLife and #Proudly51Talk on social media.
“When the pandemic happened, I was thankful and blessed to have a home-based job at 51Talk. It became not just my bread and butter but my stress reliever as well. Now, I’m a student by day and an online teacher by night and weekends,” said Pinky Narrazo Barata.
“In the era of the pandemic, 51Talk is a big blessing for me and my family. We survived a lot of challenges in life because of this,” said KC Trinidad, a home-based teacher with 51Talk.
“These are just a few examples of how Filipino teachers’ lives are changed by 51talk. And on top of providing quality language education to Chinese students, 51Talk teachers go beyond their duties to help our students grow to be a better individual,” added Huang.
At the height of the pandemic in 2020, 51Talk donated PHP5.25 million worth of personal protective equipment in an effort to help out local hospitals facing supply challenges.
51Talk has also fostered partnerships with the academe, industry, and the government to achieve its goal of empowering qualified Filipinos through online teaching opportunities. According to Huang, the Philippines is actually not short of talents who can speak fluent English, but it lacks the infrastructure that allows more Filipinos to access to online teaching jobs.
51Talk’s efforts to provide livelihood opportunities for Filipinos and how it has enhanced educational cooperation and cultural exchanges between China and the Philippines have also been acknowledged by both Chinese and Philippine ambassadors.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian highlighted the fact that online education and other booming digital industries in China have cultivated win-win cooperation between the two countries, which have not only accelerated the development of online education in China but also provided a large number of job opportunities for Filipinos.
“I’m very pleased that 51Talk is giving an opportunity to competent Filipino educators to take part in nurturing the eagerness of young Chinese people to learn the English language. This educational exchange, albeit virtual, provides an enabling environment for cultural exchange between Filipinos and the Chinese,” said Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana.