Mother tongue-based learning doesn’t affect English proficiency: DepEd

MANILA An official of the Department of Education (DepEd) said the use of mother tongue as medium of instruction in schools is not a reason for Filipino students to be less proficient in the English language.

Hindi natin sinasabi na ang mother tongue ang dahilan kung bakit bumababa ang English proficiency ng mag-aaral sapagkat ayon sa pag-aaral, ang paggamit ng first language ang makakatulong sa magaaral upang madaling makaintindi ng binabasa. Ang pag linang din nito ang nagbibigay daan upang mas madaling matuto sa second language at iba pang wika ang mga bata (We are not saying that the use of mother tongue as medium of instruction is the reason for the decline of English proficiency among students. Certain studies show that use of the first language can help students understand what they're reading. The cultivation of the first language also helps students learn a second and/or other languages)," DepEd Undersecretary Tonisito Umali said.

Results of a recent study conducted by Hopkins International Partners, the institution authorized to conduct the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) in the Philippines, showed that the English proficiency of college students in the Philippines is lower than the target proficiency of high school students in Thailand.

Umali added that students need to develop a strong foundation in their mother language before effectively learning additional languages.

The Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) is a feature of the Enhanced Basic Education Program which mandates the use of the language that students are familiar with as a medium of instruction to allow them to grasp basic concepts easily.

The DepEd uses 19 languages in MTB-MLE: Tagalog, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Iloko, Bikol, Ybanag, Sinugbuanong Binisaya, Hiligaynon, Waray, Bahasa Sug, Maguindanaoan, Maranao, Chavacano, Ivatan, Sambal, Akianon, Kinaray-a, Yakan, and Sinurigaonon. It is implemented in two modules as a learning/subject area and as medium of instruction.

Assessment of students' English proficiency

While the department does not run a survey to check students' English proficiency, Umali said that they use the National Achievement Test (NAT) results to identify any need for improvement in the study of English language.

Even though Umali did not enumerate all possible factors affecting the English proficiency of Filipino students, he explained that the department has specific programs that aim to identify which aspects of the English study students find difficult.

The department also has programs aiming to identify the weaknesses of students so we can solve the problem. For example, there are trainings and workshops that are lined up to pinpoint the aspects of the English curriculum students find difficult and why. Most of the time, it is reading comprehension," he said.

Umali added: "In the said programs, together with the experts, students will be encouraged to read more and they will be given exercises to improve on this and on writing as well.

Umali said these programs also aim at improving the teaching competency of some educators who find certain areas of the English curriculum difficult to teach.

Following the curriculum standards set by the department, most public schools in Manila use Filipino as medium of instruction to students from kinder to grade 3.

Most private schools, on the other hand, use English as medium of instruction to their kinder and gradeschool students a practice that is still compliant with the department's curriculum criteria.

The wide use of English and excellent command of spoken English continues to be the biggest advantage of the Philippines as it is one of the factors for employers and investors to choose to employ Filipinos and invest in the Philippines.

Source: Philippine News Agency