Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Impact of English Language Training on Linguistic and Cultural Identity of Call Center Employees

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Impact of English Language Training on Linguistic and Cultural Identity of Call Center Employees

Article excerpt

Offshore Call Center Industry (CCI) also referred to as business process outsourcing (BPO) has grown in the past 2 decades worldwide. Moreover, BPO industry and employees are called by many names across the globe. BPOs are one of the important industries in the Philippines due to the country's high unemployment rate (Bolton, 2013). Americans favor the Philippines when it comes to outsourcing services. These investors believe that the majority of Filipinos are fluent in the English language, easily trainable, and culturally closer to the American culture (Friginal, 2007; Lockwood, 2012; Vachhrajani, 2008).

Communication skills are key elements to get hired in the CCI. American English is the yardstick that is used to determine the quality of English required for call center related jobs. The problem is that this requirement may have negative impacts on linguistic and cultural identity of Filipinos employees (Salonga, 2010). This could explain why Patel (2010) defines the BPO firm as "sites of Western imperialism" (p. 38). Imperialism here is to be understood as "the forcible imposition of other people's cultural norms upon another." (Tupas, 2009, p. 222). In this context, CCI is viewed as a communication factory where employees are expected to use the American English exclusively (Cameron, 2000; Townsend, 2005).

Through this study, the researcher seeks to describe the teaching strategies used by trainers in teaching English. He aims to investigate whether the trainers' integration with the English language and American culture have an impact on the way they teach CSRs. Furthermore, the researcher explores how these trainers and CSRs view themselves as Filipino employees in the BPO industry as a result of the training they have received and experiences they have gone through.

Review of Related Literature

The researcher highlights the importance of investigating how English language itself influences English language trainers and learners at the personal and cultural levels in this chapter. He places this chapter in the context of English usage in call centers in the Philippines. He then shows that existing literature can be enriched with a focus on the impact of English language teaching approach through an investigation of English language trainers' teaching strategies in the BPO firm.

Relationship between Language and Culture: The Case of the Philippine English

The researcher divides this section in two subsections for clarity purposes. In the first section, the researcher shows that the Philippine society has its own culture and that all the Filipino languages including the English language are fashioned by the Filipino way of life, of approaching and perceiving reality, and of solving problems. In the second subsection, the researcher traces the history of the English language in the Philippines. He then presents different viewpoints of Filipino and other Asian scholars on the functions of the English language in the Philippines.

Language as a Byproduct of any Culture and Culture as a Foundation of any Language

According to Tupas (2009), culture is expressed in the language people speak; language is an important part of any culture. People cannot help talking about culture without talking about themselves, their values, and beliefs. To teach also means to express culture.

Culture denotes common beliefs, values, philosophy, tradition, music, writing, education, the way of speaking, and the accent shared by a specific group of people (Llamzon 1969; Mercado, 1977). This implies that the language of a community is a symbol and a part of all the above elements. This can be seen in the example of Peter trying to deny his Galilean origin in the Bible. However, his accent was a clear mark to reveal who he was. "After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you" (Matt. …

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