Bu-feet, buffet? Pinoys worry over students’ English proficiency after viral ‘pronunciation challenge’

November 21, 2022 - 6:08 PM
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Photo shows a group of young people (Screengrab from Willgutz/Facebook)

Social media users expressed alarm over the reading ability of Filipino students after a video of young people doing the “correct pronunciation challenge” went viral. 

In an almost eight-minute video posted by content creator Willgutz, young people lined up to pronounce English words. 

These include chipotle, buffet, archive, orchard, Porsche, soften, champagne, aisle, conscience, biscuit, psalm and choir

Most of the people featured in the video mispronounced these words. 

The video gained nearly three million views, about 3,000 comments and 13,000 laugh reactions.

‘Alarming, not funny’

While others laugh about it, many say that the video is alarming while noting the lapses in the country’s education system. 

“This is painful to watch. Phonetic transcription of words is available in dictionaries. Even if you personally don’t hear a word being uttered, it will give you an idea of how it should be pronounced. This is something we can educate them in. Though it will be challenging, they will undoubtedly gain from it,” a social media user said

“Let’s help these kids. This is not something to be proud of,” she added.

“This is not funny. This is alarming,” a Facebook user said

“That’s what I was thinking as well. Surprising since I thought the literacy rate in the Philippines is pretty high,” a social media user agreed

“As much as this is funny, it is disturbing at the same time. Some of these kids are probably in HS, and the reading deficiency is alarming,” a Facebook user said

“True… it’s so alarming calling the attention of DepEd (Department of Education) and CHED (Commission on Higher Education) wala na ba spelling and phonetics as part of English,” a social media user said

“The school system had let these kids down. Sad situation all around,” a Facebook user said

“This is actually alarming knowing this is the result of the educational crisis we have,” a social media user said

“This might be funny but definitely alarming! Even yung nag tuturo, you should be precise in teaching them proper pronunciation. Nakakalungkot ang mga kabataan ngayon knowing na ang ibang salita dito ay basic pa,” a Facebook user said

English proficiency, learning poverty

The Filipino people’s English competency declined in 2022, scoring 578, compared to last year’s 592, based on EF English Proficiency Index

Given this score, the country’s global rank slid down to 22nd from last year’s 18th. 

Despite the lower score, the country maintains the “high proficiency” distinction based on the study. 

The EF English Proficiency Index is based on test data from more than 2.1 million test takers worldwide. 

“The test-taking population represented in this Index is self-selected and not guaranteed to be representative,” the global study noted. 

RELATED: 2020 English Proficiency Index: Philippines out of world’s Top 20 but is No.2 in Asia

A separate report from the World Bank also reported that 90% of children in the Philippines still struggled with reading simple texts at age 10. 

The same report shows that the country’s learning poverty rate is 91% while the learning deprivation rate is 90%. 

RELATED: Crisis in education? Pinoys fret over Philippines’ high learning poverty rate