Bilingual Teaching Has Become a Setback in the Students’ Attempts to Gain Proficiency in English

Bilingual teaching has become a setback in the students’ attempts to gain proficiency in English. What is the cause of such a deterioration? It used to be that the Philippines’ biggest competitive advantage in the global job market is the proficiency of our skilled workers in the English language. This advantage is fast being eroded by rising competition from other countries coupled with declining mastery of the English language by our high school and college graduates. That is the reason why there is a private sector willing to invest in the Philippines in order for the Filipinos to be globally competitive when it comes to oral and written communications in English.

Philippines is lagging behind in terms of English language, both in oral and written communications as compared to Asian and European countries. Before, it was highly regarded as the best country as far as oral and written communications in English are concerned; even though, it is only the second language, aside from Filipino as the national language in the Philippines, and said language is to be spoken entirely in the region. There is a gradual decline of the language that affects so much in the interest and well-being of the students, more particularly in learning and teaching a universal language–and that is English. Some reasons are, perhaps, overloaded with unnecessary subjects or curriculum offered within the educational system of DepEd. Well, the answer lies in each of us as Filipino learners who are now deteriorating due to some factors that affect the learning stage or development in both verbal and non-verbal skills.

Filipinos, despite the loss of interest and deterioration of the language, still strive hard to excel in any subject that has something to do with English communication since the target language is used as the medium of instructions in the Philippines.

The NGOs and other private sectors are very supportive of the Filipinos and find ways about speech or language difficulty in order to remedy slowly whatever problems that have perplexed and entailed in communication of said language. Failures to correct grammatical mistakes and speech difficulty are the twisted principles that must be worked out at once; otherwise, these are the stumbling blocks of oral and written communications.

In the previous years, the Promoting English Proficiency Project of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, the Makati Business Club and Sun Microsystems Phils., Inc. commissioned the survey. It was aimed at developing a world-class Filipino workforce with English proficiency that meets high international standards. “English means jobs,” said Rick Santos, AmCham president. “We believe that there are great opportunities in business process outsourcing (BPO), IT-enabled services, software development, and tourism in the country.”

On the other hand, the proposed English bill as authored and commissioned by Rep. Eduardo Gullas passed for the final reading. He proposed the use of regional language in all subjects, etc.

In English bill, now a priority list

Gullas proposes use of regional language in all subjects

Dr. Ermetes F. Adolfo Jr., a former English Dept. Head in the Secondary Level of the University of the Visayas-Minglanilla Campus, agreed with Rep. Eduardo R. Gullas, president and owner of said university to use English as the medium of instructions both in secondary and tertiary levels, including the elementary level which is the main target of language competency

Rep. Gullas proposes use of regional language in all subjects, including pre-school to grade 2

Principal Eutiquia S. Alday was also informed by Rep. Gullas that MNSHS is chosen as the pilot school within the Division of Cebu Province and English is the top priority

The Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council certified House Bill 305, filed by Rep. Eduardo R. Gullas (Cebu Province, 1st district), as a priority bill.

Gullas expressed confidence that his proposal will survive Congress because 207 legislators also signed as the bill’s co-authors. These include all the seven other Cebuano lawmakers.

Gullas’ proposal, formerly known as HB 4701, was approved on third and final reading in the Lower House late last year. “The bill aims to correct the defects of the current Bilingual Education Program of the Department of Education (DepEd),” said Gullas in his explanatory note. “Its ultimate objective is the improvement of the learning process in schools to ensure quality inputs.”

Bilingual teaching has become a setback in the students’ attempts to gain proficiency in English.

“Targeting the learning of two languages (English and Pilipino) is too much for the Filipino learners, especially in the lower grades. And if the child happens to be a non-Tagalog speaker, this task actually means learning two foreign languages at the same time, an almost impossible task,” Gullas said.

He described this as tragic “because books in almost disciplines are written in English.”

“Science and mathematics, for example, cannot be fully mastered by our students, thus we lag behind other Asian nations in these areas,” Gullas added.

If enacted, the bill will supersede an education department order issued 33 years ago, which implements the bilingual teaching policy in all Philippine schools.

Under the Gullas bill:

· English, Filipino or the regional language shall be the medium of instruction in all subjects from preschool to Grade 2;

· English and Filipino shall be taught as separate subjects in all levels of elementary and high school;

· English shall be the medium of instruction in all academic subjects from Grade 3 to Grade 6, and in all levels of high school;

· In the tertiary level, the current language policy as prescribed by the Commission on Higher Education shall be maintained; and

· In addition to formal instruction, the use of English shall be encouraged as a language of interaction in school.

The organization of English clubs such as book, oratorical, debating, writing and related associations shall be encouraged.

HB 305 also proposes the use of English as the language of assessment in all government examinations and entrance tests in all public schools and state universities and colleges.

Questions in Filipino should not exceed 10 percent of the total points in the examination, Gullas suggested.

The DepEd is required to provide all the devices, training and support facilities to strengthen and enhance English as the medium of teaching.