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I.P. Martin´s Circles within a circle to capture the nuance of English in the Philippines. [1]

Having been working in Europe for more than 4 years, I´m always asked where I got my proficiency in English and if most Filipinos have the same facility in the language as me. The answer to the first question is straightforward: I learned English in school.

The second question is a little tricky. There are better English speakers than me and there are those who I believe like to learn English but have no capability to do so. I then explain that English in the Philippines is a path for upward mobility as education is anchored on one´s proficiency in the language. Learning maths or sciences can be a pain if one doesn´t have a little mastery of English.

In her recent paper, I.P. Martin argues that the “Three Circles Model of Kachru might be re-examined in the context of the Philippines, in order to better capture the sociolinguistic realities of Outer Circle speakers of English [1].”

She says that the Philippine English, an Outer Circle country, can be thought of as a circle with many circles.

The Filipinos in the inner Philippine English circle have embraced the English language and they actively promote it even as a language variety in schools.

The Filipinos in the outer Philippine English circle know that a Philippine variety exists “but fall short of promoting the variety, owing to a sense of powerlessness they have in counteracting the dominance of American English.”

And finally, the Filipinos in the expanding circle see the “status of the Philippine English is a non-issue.” This means that there is little talk about it. Although, the proficiency in the language is a requisite for upward mobility.

I hope that the boundaries of these inner circles are permeable.

The author says she used “the Three Circles model in order to provide a more nuanced description of English in the Philippines and in this way present a number of insights into issues relating to the acceptability of Philippine English within Philippine society.”

Now, if I can only explain it this way to my colleagues.


PEFIANCO MARTIN, I. (2014). Philippine English revisited World Englishes, 33 (1), 50-59 DOI: 10.1111/weng.12054