MTB-MLE in Philippine Education

7 July 2016

President Benigno S. Aquino’s education agenda states the following regarding language in the curriculum: “’to use English to connect with the world, to use Filipino to connect to our country and the mother tongue to connect with our heritage. ’” (Gunigundo A9) How are these attitudes imbibed by today’s Filipino youth? This is where Mother tongue-based learning comes in. Mother tongue-based learning, also known as Mother Tongue Based-Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE), uses more than two languages as a medium of instruction.

It is grounded on making children literate in their first language or L1. They are only taught Filipino and English when they have mastered their first language. When they are used to Filipino and English, the abilities and lessons they acquired in L1 can be used in their secondary languages (Nolasco, “Why children learn better while using mother tongue” A13). Its main objective is for children to learn basic skills in their regional language prior to learning in their L2 (Quismundo A10).

MTB-MLE in Philippine Education Essay Example

Students learn and understand better when the medium of instruction is the language they are most exposed to, the language they know the best (“Why the ‘English bill’ is tantamount to national suicide” 9). Thus, the mother tongue-based learning program should be implemented in Philippine provinces to improve the primary foundation for education. Experiments on the implementation of Mother tongue-based learning programs have been around for over 60 years. It was first implemented in Iloilo in 1948, when Hiligaynon was made the medium of instruction.

Two years later, it was found that learners under the program did better than those who were taught in only English. The next trial was the Rizal Experiment of 1960, which proved that the more a student is exposed to a language, the more capable he or she will be at using it in the future. Around 25 years later, the First Language Component-Bridging Program (FLC-BP) attested that students given proper transition from their first language to English and Filipino, their secondary languages, excel more than those who are immediately taught in English and Filipino. Then, in 1999, under Lingua

Franca project, two sets of groups were observed: The experimental groups which used Ilocano, Cebuano and Tagalog were used as a medium of instruction, and the control groups which used English and Filipino. At the end of the second year, it was found that the experimental groups averaged higher scores than the control groups did (Quijano). With all these studies and experimentations, it is evident that the choice of the language for instruction is a pressing issue for Filipinos. Students cannot fully comprehend what is being taught because the medium of instruction is not a language they are familiar with (Nolasco, “’Language Martyrs’” n.

p. ). According to Tarra Quismundo (A10), one of the reasons why students drop out of school is because the medium of instruction used is a language they don’t understand. How will students be able to take part in class discussions and such when they are unable to comprehend what is going on? Because these issues are not given an immediate response, there are at present, an estimated 221 million children around the world who choose not to attend school (Ndaruhutse). When a child is allowed to use his or her own language, expression becomes easier.

With Multilingual Education (MLE), children are enabled to voice out their thoughts and opinions, making them part of the learning process (Nolasco, 21 Reasons why Filipino children learn better while using their Mother Tongue 6). If a child cannot effectively express his or her thoughts, he or she will end up either questioning his or her surroundings or merely go with the flow (Tubeza, “Local dialects key to global success” A6). Aside from students, the mother tongue-based learning program would benefit teachers as well.

“No less than former Department of Education Secretary Butch Abad revealed a year or two ago that easily 70 percent of public school teachers are incapable of communicating effectively in English. […] It is the most basic principle of management that objective and strategy must equate with the reality of available means. ” (“Why the ‘English bill’ is tantamount to national suicide” 9) When teachers are restricted to teaching with a language they cannot fully grasp, it can lead to detrimental effects for the students.

With this program, teachers would be more effective, especially if they are more accustomed to the local language. In teaching with the vernacular, they would be enabled to relate to students better in class (Nolasco, 21 Reasons why Filipino children learn better while using their Mother Tongue 6). According to Valenzuela Representative Magtanggol Gunigundo, in Valenzuela, only 13 percent of Filipino examinees got a particular question in the 2003 Trends in International math and Science Studies (TIMSS) right.

A further study showed that when selected items were simplified into Filipino, top students of the lower grade scored higher than the top students in the higher grade that took the original test (A9). When the program was tested In Mindanao, there was a significant rise seen in the average National Achievement Test (NAT) scores of Manobo students who were under the Culture-Responsible Curriculum for Indigenous People-Third Elementary Educational Project (CCIP-TEEP). These students were first taught in Minanubu, then later on introduced to English and Filipino (Quijano). Results like these have motivated Rep.

Gunigundo himself to propose a bill to the House of Representatives that pushes for multilingual education. This bill encourages the use of the native language during the primary years of education, and requires the provision of proper transition to English and Filipino as the child progresses to higher levels. It promotes the mother language, at the same time, it does not demean English or Filipino (Nolasco, 21 Reasons why Filipino children learn better while using their Mother Tongue 17-18). The Department of Education has also taken some measures to address the need for mother tongue-based learning.

In DepEd Order No. 60, s. 2008, the Department of Education acknowledged that mother tongue-based learning is the best way to provide proper transition from a child’s first language to the second, creating a proper foundation for education (Quijano). In June 2009, the 30-year-old bilingual policy was replaced. Then DepEd secretary Jesli Lapus signed Order No. 74, s. 2009, in support of Rep. Gunigundo’s bill, to implement Mother Tongue Based-Multilingual Education as the new teaching strategy for primary education (Tubeza, “DepEd shifts to mother tongue for grade school” A5).

However, basic education in the Philippines will not be automatically better with the implementation of the Mother Tongue-based learning program (Martin, “The MTB-MLE Express: unstoppable” A15). In a recent Presidential Policy Forum, Manuel Villar Jr. , Sen. Richard Gordon and Gilbert Teodoro all said that English should be the medium of instruction for primary and elementary. Villar said that English and Filipino should be implemented in school for the nation’s progress, while Teodoro said that English should be taught in preschool to avoid difficulty in learning it at a later age (Mendez 2).

Making English the lingua franca would benefit those who aim for global careers (David A12), like Filipino seafarers who have the advantage of knowing how to speak in English unlike the Chinese and Koreans, who are the country’s competitors in the business. But focusing on English alone can lead to the loss of other job opportunities. It could end up with Filipinos striving superficial jobs such as those in the call center market (Tan, “Multilingual” A15).

Despite research on the MLE program showing that students learn better with their mother tongue, the House of Representatives still is still insisting on using English as the medium of instruction (Nolasco, “FIND ME PLEASE” n. p. ). There is a pending “English Bill” that “[…] Cebu Representative Eduardo Gullas proudly pushes […] by saying ‘Mounting global unemployment […] underscored the need for our human resources to be proficient in English – the world’s lingua franca – in order to stay highly competitive in the job markets here and abroad.

’” (“Why the ‘English bill’ is tantamount to national suicide” 9) With this bill, mother languages are sacrificed in favor of English and Filipino (Tan, “Mother tongue” A15). One of the reasons why English is still being pushed to be the medium of instruction because people remember how effective American education was during the American occupation, when in reality, it was mostly the upper class Filipinos who were able to graduate and attain a degree (Nolasco, “’Language Martyrs’” n. p. ). If students are taught using only English, the elitist traits of the Filipino people will be highlighted (Esposo 11).

Filipinos fail to realize that using English is not for people in all social classes. Instead, they assume that everyone can speak it perfectly (Tan, “’Mother Tongue’” A15). Instead of waiting for the government decision on the permanent medium of instruction, some Filipinos have already opted to put their children in schools with a multilingual curriculum (Tan, “Mother tongue” A15). An Ateneo de Manila University graduate, James Soriano (A16), recently wrote an article that was published in the Manila Bulletin, and later on, the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

The article talked about how he referred to Filipino as “the language of the streets”. He said: [… ] Filipino was a chore, […] it was not the language of learning. […] We used to think learning Filipino was important because it was practical: Filipino was the language of the world outside the classroom. It was the language of the streets. […] Only recently have I begun to grasp Filipino as the language of identity: the language of emotion, experience and even of learning. […] It might have the capacity to be the language of learning, but it is not the language of the learned.

[…] I may be disconnected from my being Filipino, but with a tongue of privilege, I will always have my connections. […] This article sparked a lot of controversy, with different people writing to newspapers with their own thoughts on the article and on the language itself. Many said that because of James Soriano’s article, the youth has given importance to the language again. They have realized the role and impact a language can have on Philippine culture and on the country itself (Pimentel A16).

Others said that his real intentions were to make Filipinos understand the magnitude of the language, especially since the article first came out during the month Filipino is honored (Estoya A16). Since the Philippines is a very linguistically diverse country, with over 150 languages to date (Nolasco, 21 Reasons why Filipino children learn better while using their Mother Tongue 7), there have been many trials on multilingual education all around the country. For instance, in Lanao, it was found that people became more interested in reading when old myths and legends were translated in Maranaw.

Another example is one of the most successful multilingual programs in the Philippines in Kalinga. There, a community has already started to use the program permanently, after a successful experiment showed that teaching in Lubuagan helped students perform better in standardized tests (Martin, “Mother-tongue education is the way to go” n. p. ). These students ranked first in the provincial reading test in 2006, scoring higher in the Filipino and English reading tests than other students.

Studies showed that by the third year of implementation, students in multilingual classrooms were doing better than students who aren’t (G. Dekker and D. Dekker A11). Mother tongue-based education or multilingual education is not unique to the Philippines. In fact, people in other Asian countries that are more developed than the Philippines were educated in the country’s chosen vernacular. English is only learned optionally as an extra ability (“Why the ‘English bill’ is tantamount to national suicide” 9).

Parents in South American countries, such as Bolivia, have different opinions on learning with the mother language, because they think that their children need to learn Spanish more than their mother tongue. Despite this, UNICEF has implemented a Bilingual education program. With all the effort, they are still having trouble carrying out the program because of the lack of teachers and learning aids (ed. Haddad 168). In South Africa, the program is only implemented in places where there are enough capable teachers and community members to help carry it out.

The choice of language to be used in the classroom is left up to the parents, however, if the school or government does not approve, they have the power to change what has been decided on (ed. Haddad 143). One of the things Filipinos don’t know about Europeans, although they are multilingual, learned first in their own languages before learning English to deal with international affairs (Esposo 11). For example, in the Netherlands, it is important to be multilingual because of their relations with neighboring countries such as Germany.

They have proved that there should be no argument between English and the national language, because multilingualism is the right choice (Tan, “Multilingual” A15). To effectively execute the program, the load is not only on students and teachers. Participation of parents and the community is a key parameter that is found to be present in programs that push for the mastery of multiple languages (Hernandez A13). Parents who are more used to the local language can monitor their children better, just as teachers in the same situation can (Nolasco, 21 Reasons why Filipino children learn better while using

their Mother Tongue 6). In accordance with DepEd Order No. 74, s. 2009, the community is requested to help provide learning aids in the vernacular, because it is the lack of materials that hinders the program from being executed correctly (Tubeza, DepEd shifts to mother tongue for grade school A5). Mother Tongue-based Multilingual Education helps everyone be part of the learning process by integrating culture with education (Nolasco, 21 Reasons why Filipino children learn better while using their Mother Tongue 6).

Transferring and learning a second language is based on what the students can currently understand. Introducing them directly to a language not familiar to them would confuse their way of thinking, which is why a strong foundation in the mother tongue would help. With a strong foundation, children would be able to understand both languages and would find it easier to shift between the two (ed. Haddad 6), which is actually one of the program’s aims.

The others are learning to value languages and cultures and enabling them to peacefully relate with people from different parts of the world, making them multi-literate, multi-lingual and multi-cultural learners (Nolasco, 21 Reasons why Filipino children learn better while using their Mother Tongue 5). Ludwig Wittgenstein said, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world. ” (qtd. in David, A12) Knowing that the world outside the classroom is parallel with the lessons in school, a child can better understand and appreciate his or her surroundings.

In his book Language and Nationalism: The Filipino Experience Thus Far, Gonzalez said that “[…] the Filipino will continue to be multilingual, at least, trilingual, using the local vernacular as the language of the home, Tagalog-based Pilipino as an urban lingua franca, and English as the language of commerce, legislation, government and international relations […]. ” (157) In continuing to be a multilingual people, the Filipinos should neither abandon nor exchange their mother language for another. When one loses his or her own language, the identity that binds the Filipino people is lost.

This proves to be a problem for exclusively English-speaking Filipinos. There is difficulty in interacting with their fellow countrymen because they cannot speak the vernacular (Pimentel A16). “As we begin to appreciate the rhythms and cadences, the humor and wisdom, in each of our many languages, we just might be able to overcome out parochialism and regionalism and build a nation strong in its multicultural foundations. ” (Tan, “Mother tongue” A15) The Filipino people should use the numerous languages they have to support a nation, wherever they may be.

Second generation Filipinos, the children of Overseas Filipino Workers, may not speak the mother language of their parents, but they understand it. Maybe in the future they can use it, and they can be one with the Filipino culture. Like Fr. Facundo Mela said, “There is nothing like speaking in one’s mother tongue. ” (A16) Learning other languages should not mean renouncing the mother language, because it is that language that connects one to the past. It is that language that connects one to the motherland.

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