Good English skills lead to global employment opportunities, and that’s something that the graduating students at the American Institute for English Proficiency know well. It’s also one of the reasons that the school’s founder, Christopher Delacruz, decided to focus on sharing and promoting English skills in the Philippines. With on-site classes in three different regions (Quezon City and Makati near Manila, and Baguio to the north) students from all over the islands can learn to speak, read, and write English at a professional level, and students coming from abroad can learn English while enjoying the warmth and hospitality of the Philippine culture. We talked to Christopher about the school and the courses offered there.
UV: In your site profile, you mention that “freedom” is an important goal for you. Is helping students get the freedom to work and travel using English skills one of the reasons you decided to start this English school in the Philippines?
CD: I was born in the Philippines, but I grew up in the United States. When I moved to the United States, I realized that there was a stark contrast between these countries in terms of “freedom,” which I define as “time and money to do things.” In the United States, there was more opportunity to go to good schools and to get good jobs; in the Philippines, however, the quality of education and the amount of employment available are very poor. Consequently, many Filipinos cannot find that freedom. After graduating from Seattle University with a degree in political Science and having worked in Las Vegas for seven years after that, I came back to the Philippines for what was supposed to be a short-term vacation. However, I decided to settle down in the Philippines when I saw that the country I left when I was young was still the same country I left many years ago, lacking opportunities for its people. I decided to open a school with a business partner to become a part of the solution.
UV: Many of your courses are designed to help people who already speak English fairly well. For example, your “Public Speaking and Grammar” course will teach students how to really polish their professional presentation skills. Are there courses for beginning students also?
CD: These courses were designed for a heterogenous group. The basic requirement is that students can already understand and speak basic English. Most Filipinos are already speaking fairly well, so they enjoy the classes. For foreign students who do not speak that well yet, they have to go through a remedial private or one-on-one class until we feel that they are qualified for the group classes.
UV: Companies who are considering setting up business in the Philippines need people with good English skills. What types of corporate training do you provide?
CD: We offer our courses to all companies. Some companies want the program tailor-fit for them, so we talk to the companies first what their goals are so that we can design the course specifically. We have worked with major multi-national companies and local firms.
UV: Back in 2011 you offered a “train the trainer” course that taught skills that ESL teachers and people in leadership roles need to best support their students and employees in English skills development. Are you planning on offering this popular course again?
CD: Yes, we normally offer this course when there is an interest. Otherwise, we concentrate on our regular courses. We recently had professors from a university enroll as a group.
UV: What is your English Club all about? Who can join the club?
CD: The English Club is an extension of our courses and the school. We believe that learning English or any language must go beyond the classrooms. The English club is our student’s venue to continue expressing themselves in English. We hold social and academic activities as well as community service events. We encourage all our students to take part in our activities so that they can continue practicing English. Everyone, including non-students can join the club.