The Transnational Growth of Philippine Ethnic Businesses in the Age of Global Mobility: A Case of Korean-Run English Language Schools in Baguio, a Regional Capital, the Philippines



This paper examines the origin and transnational growth of Korean-run English language education businesses, through which Philippine English has been commercialized as a commodity in overseas markets. The Philippines has become one of the most popular destinations for Korean and Japanese students to study English. Two major factors make this decision valid: English competency has become an essential skill for employability and career growth; and studying in the Philippines is more affordable than doing so in native English-speaking countries. Accordingly, English language schools for foreigners in the Philippines have proliferated tremendously. However, little is known about why these English language schools, owned and managed by Korean and Japanese migrant entrepreneurs and investors, have dominated the English language industry in the Philippines. Unlike Korean migrants’ small and self-employed businesses in the Philippines, such as Korean restaurants, beauty parlors, bakeries, and butchers, the schools are both groundbreaking and innovative. These businesses, initially established for early study abroad opportunities for Korean children, have continued to grow rapidly by finding a new overseas market in Japan. Such a transnational spread of these ethnic businesses has been possible not only thanks to their innovative English language training programs, but also because of the de-regulation policy related to visa application by the Philippine authorities, which facilitates this ethnic entrepreneurship. In this paper, focusing on Baguio, a regional capital in northern Luzon, we analyze how Korean migrant entrepreneurs started their English language schools and how they came to develop their innovative educational programs. Further, we shed light on how Philippine authorities have assisted with the growth of Korean ethnic businesses by advertising the study of Philippine English as a new tourist attraction.



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