Myanmar’s citizens look to English language to bring better prospects

 

As Myanmar opens up to the world, there is an increasing demand for English, especially for those who want to climb the corporate ladder.

YANGON: Just six months ago, Min Sithu Maung could barely speak or understand English. But after taking lessons, he has become more fluent and gained confidence in the language.

“I’ve improved a lot. Six months ago, I would post on Facebook in the Myanmar language, but now I try to post and practise the English language with the correct use of grammar and spelling,” said the student.

“English is an international language. I can’t communicate with foreigners in my national language, but I can communicate with almost all foreigners in English. My aim is to be a bank manager, and banking is international so that’s why I’m doing this.”

With Myanmar opening up its doors to the world, there is a growing demand for English proficiency, especially for those who want to climb the corporate ladder, according to a teacher at one of Yangon’s international schools.

“Two years ago, there wasn’t much demand for learning English, especially amongst adults,” said Benjamin Htet Wunna, a senior teacher at NIEC International.

“In the past, if you didn’t have the language skills for English, you could survive in the job. But nowadays it seems quite different because it has become a very important skill.”

“For example, if you want to find and apply for a job, the resume and cover letter will have to be written in English and if you’re going to apply for big companies, they will interview you in English.

“Even for people already in the workforce and who are doing business, they also need to learn English because nowadays, we’re not just working locally, we have to associate and cooperate internationally so that’s why English has become quite popular,” he added.

HIGHER PAY, PROMOTIONS, OPPORTUNITY

Some companies have also started to fund compulsory English classes for their staff, whilst others are engaging only native speakers to train their employees. Schools have also observed that some employees enjoy higher pay, promotions and the opportunity to work in foreign firms after improving their English proficiency.

“Businesses now see the need to train their staff to be able to communicate with foreigners as not just as a need but as a necessity because as they expand their businesses, they need to communicate more with foreigners either by mail or by speaking,” said Shirley Nang Hom Leik, Program Coordinator at the Nexus English Centre.

“The surprising thing is even local companies who we don’t think will have any contact with foreigners, like lottery ticket companies, send their staff to learn English, so we think that they’re going to expand their business or move out into other fields.”

 

Source: Channel News Asia

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