English education has been one of the Chilean state’s main concerns over recent years. One of these initiatives is the Intensive English Improvement Program, which is aimed at training Chilean tourism sector workers in the language. The program will have a budget of 2 billion Chilean pesos in 2010, which is double what it was last year.
The initiative, which will benefit 2,500 people, is part of the human capital improvements that are included in the Chilean Government’s innovation policy. The idea is to further speed the growth Chilean tourism, which is projected to make profits of US$ 4 billion in 2012.
“The funds that we have allocated to the tourism sector are aimed at the full development of the professional and competitive potential of the workers in this industry, which we expect to earn revenues of between US$ 2.7 billion and US$ 4 billion by 2012. And to a great degree this depends on customer satisfaction,” highlighted Economy Minister Jean-Jacques Duhart.
For his part, Executive Vice President of the Production Development Corporation (CORFO) Carlos Álvarez highlighted the progress made along these lines. In this context, he noted that last year training courses were given in 17 locations, including some as far away as San Pedro de Atacama in the north, Puerto Natales and Easter Island.
“With the conclusion of these courses we can say that close to 1,500 people improved their English skills and that 60% of them raised their language level by 50 points compared to the first results. This will ultimately allow them to develop and progress in materializing their ideas for this sector, which moves the country and brings it closer to economic development,” he stated.
Different sectors of society have participated in this effort for Chile to become a bilingual country, with universities playing a major role. For example, in 2008 a group of English education students from the Universidad Católica de la Santísma Concepción gave a 20-hour course to merchants in the city center to improve their communication with foreign visitors.