Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Much ado about nothing

There is much debate once again about the desirability of English versus Filipino as a medium of instruction as a group of scholars questioned before the Supreme Court the implementation of Executive Order 210, which seeks to promote the use of the English language in Philippine schools. The Implementing Rules and Regulations of the said EO will promote the language by:

1. Teaching English as a second language starting with Grade 1;

2. Using English as the medium of instruction of English, Mathematics, and Science and Health subjects starting Grade 3; and

3. Using English as the primary medium of instruction in all public and private schools in the secondary level.

What is so objectionable about the above?

Ever since I can remember, English is being taught as a second language with Grade 1. English is also the medium of instruction for English, Science and Math. We all learned multiplication and not multipilikasyon.

In this respect, President Arroyo's EO is simply codifying what is actually happening in our schools for quite some time now. The EO would therefore be ineffective in promoting the English language for the simple reason that it effectuates no new radical policy change at all in the primary school level. English is also the de facto primary medium of instruction for secondary schools now. The EO would just be validating and giving a more official imprimatur the reality tha has been well established by past practice.

The EO may have made the call center lobby happy, but I honestly don't see how it will improve the English language in this country.


arpee lazaro said...

from a linguistic point of view, children learn better when first taught using the native tongue. the english-first policy seems more like a political bill than anything. just the president's way of appeasing call center lobbyists. but it is true, as toddlers must first be instructed in the native tongue as it is the most widely spoken. even in the upper classes, or the inglisero households, their first language will always be the local vernacular as this is the child/learner's basis for learning the second language. the "ado" is not really nothing. it's something. a big something.

Ronnel said...

For most Filipinos though, Tagalog (aka Filipino)is a second language and not a native tongue. For the Bisaya for example it could be just as alien (or alienating) as say the English language.

If we are to insist on using the native tongue to teach classroom subjects because of their, as you say, pedagogical value, then, what we should do is print textbooks in Bicol, Bisaya, Ilokano, etc., and use them for classroom instruction. Why use Tagalog, a secondary language for most Filipinos?