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Filipino vs.

English as the medium of instruction

The English vs. Filipino debate is once again a hot topic.
A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the
government?s policy of using English as the medium of instruction in
our schools. According to those who filed the petition, the push for the
use of English in our classrooms will only lead to further deterioration
of what?s already been described as a rather inferior quality of
Those who support the 2003 Executive Order filed by President Arroyo
on the other hand argue that doing away with English as the medium
of instruction will inevitably hurt the country and our people more
because they believe that a less competitive workforce will emerge.
I find myself a bit torn with this issue.
3 months ago, I would have been right on the side of government.
Having had the opportunity to travel and study abroad, I fully recognize
the value of being able to speak and write fluently in English. I know
that it was due in part to my English proficiency that I didn?t have as
much difficulty in trying to find a job as the rest of my 'international'
friends. I didn?t have to enroll in ESL classes which could have delayed
my program for another year. I didn?t get lost around town as much
and I was able to meet and make friends easily because there was no
language barrier. So, I really benefited a lot from learning English in my
grade school and high school years.
But then three months ago, I also didn?t know much about the state of
education in the Philippines. Fortunately, since I returned, I?ve learned
quite a bit about the ?ills? of our public education system. I guess this
is why I find myself torn.
I recognize that learning to speak and write in English in this age of
globalization is necessary especially if we would like to be able to
compete in the knowledge-based world. Such a training can best be

done in a classroom. But if we look at things realistically, it seems like

our public education system is just not set up for this yet.
And so I just can?t help but wonder? should we really impose a certain
language as the primary medium of instruction? I understand that
standards are needed and must be met. But couldn?t we perhaps just
be a bit more liberal with our views? Shouldn?t teachers be allowed to
use the most effective communication tools that will allow them to
articulate their lesson plans best? Wouldn?t that, in the end, help their
students to grasp the material better and truly learn?

Replied by: shawty | Date replied: Nov 13,2011

got cha! :D english vs. filipino should not be a debate . just in our
case, here in phil. my prof said " dapat na gamitin na lenggwahe o wika
sa pagtuturo ay ang winiwika rin ng batang tinuturuan upang sa gayon
magkaintindihan at lubos na matuto ang bata :) got it??

Primer on the Filipino Language as a Language of Education

Late last year, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Executive
Order 210. Its most important point is the establishment of the
English language as the primary medium of instruction in all public
institutions of learning at the secondary level. On 29 September, the
Standard Today carried a news item which announced that two
congressional committees had approved and endorsed to the House of
Representatives the report prescribing the use of English as the
medium of instruction in Philippine schools, from pre-school to college,
including technical and vocational courses. According to the
report, the Committees on Higher Education and on Basic Education
agreed to consolidate related proposals into House Bill 4701. If
enacted into law, the report continued, the bill will supersede the
bilingual policy which is in effect today. The UP Forum reproduces
here the Primer on the Filipino Language as Language of Education
issued by the National Committee of Language and Translation (NCLT)
of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the

Sentro ng Wikang Filipino (SWF), UP Diliman, in response to EO 210.

The NCLT is chaired by Virgilio S. Almario, National Artist, andDean of
the UP Diliman College of Arts and Letters.

Poke Me: Why English should not be the medium of instruction

in India
In India, one erectile dysfunction for which a
miraculous Ayurvedic or Unanni cure is not peddled in technicolour
over all media is of hackles. For the good reason that they are always
up. That is a required genetic trait for our television anchors and they
compensate for nature's oversight in this regard for the rest of the
population. So a new outrage cannot make hackles rise, it can make
only make them bristlle. Say anything against English, and they not
only bristle but also positively come shooting off the snarling mass of
the enraged, like quills from a porcupine.
I have no desire to turn into a man-eater, as many leopards in India
have, after being maimed by porcupine quills. I hasten to clarify that
this column is not against English. I am all for English and for Indians
learning it across the board. But I am decidedly against English
increasingly being preferred as the medium of instruction in schools.
In January, Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyar cited, in a column in the
Times of India, research findings from those who study cognition to
argue against teaching English in Class 1. The easiest language to
learn for all human infants is the language they hear spoken at home,
the mother tongue. When children who do not hear even a smattering
of English at home are taught English in their first year of schooling,
their entire learning process is impaired. If they learn to read their
mother tongue first, and then learn English, they learn both languages
much better. This is just about teaching English. It can be imagined
that teaching maths or science or history through English would be
even more disastrous. Kids end up learning by rote, not understanding

a thing. They pass their exams all right, but end up unemployable
graduates, their native capacity to learn damaged for ever, and their
creative faculties crippled. This is a tremendous loss, both at the
individual level and at the level of society.
Indians are firmly convinced that the only way to learn English properly
is to learn everything else through English. This is contrary to logic and
empirical evidence both in India and around the world. Children in
every country today learn English, but they learn it as a foreign
language, and learn it well, in all countries where English is not the
native tongue.
Consider countries like Korea, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Brazil
and China. They have economies that are better than most. Their
schools teach English, but employ their own mother tongues as the
medium of instruction. Korea's population is smaller than Tamil Nadu's.
Japan's, smaller than Bihar's. The Scandinavian countries are
comparable, in population size, to Mayur Vihar, Thane, White Field or
some other suburb in India. Their languages remain vibrant, they
create new knowledge and literature in their own languages and
produce Nobel prize winners and world-beating companies. Of course,
they also learn English, the de facto world language. Except in
colonized India, nowhere do people believe that unless they abandon
their mother tongue and embrace English as the sole language of
instruction, their future is doomed.
Today, many Indian languages are slowly dying. The best and brightest
among them learn only English. The poetry they write will be in
English. Their creativity will not nourish the roots of their mother
culture. Great Indian languages whose proto-sounds have resonated
with sense and sensibility for thousands of years will languish and die.
Sounds implausible? Welsh is almost dead. Irish writhes in its death
throes. The print order for a book of poetry in Hindi, nominally the
mother tongue of over 450 million people, is 500. But for Hindi films,
Hindi poetry would probably be dead by now.
Premium advertising in the print media goes to English publications.

When people have money to spend, they defect from their mother
tongue to English. Everyone wants to earn more money , they will want
to imitate the habits of the elite, who wear Fab India ethnic and
converse only in English. The current fetish with English Medium
destroys learning and creativity, produces unemployable graduates
and sets Indian languages on an inexorable course of destruction.
What is the alternative? Teach kids in their own mother tongues.
Produce world class textbooks, translate them, by all means, from
English, for all levels, and revamp the teaching of English as a second
With a proliferation of television channels in all languages and the
coming spread of wireless broadband, use of multimedia to expand the
scope of teaching English to cover speaking is not difficult at all.
(Disclosure: I studied in Malayalam all through school and how I speak
English is an endless source of amusement for my two Delhi-brought
up, deracinated children).
English itself will be the biggest beneficiary from Indians deciding to
teach their young in their mother tongue while also teaching them
English separately and thoroughly.
Can Indian languages lend themselves specialized registers required
for academic rigour in varied disciplines? But of course. In Europe, the
language of science used to be Latin, till science and society got
democratized. Many Latin terms continue to be used in science. Indian
languages can continue with Latin and English for technical terms
instead of going for long-winded artificial coinages. If Korean and
Swedish can deal with microelectronics and Abba, there is no reason
why Indian languages cannot.
Indians need to be multilingual, and they can be. Learn English, we
must, but in a manner that does not kill off Indian languages, children's
ability to comprehend or even English itself.

Filipino: A liberal arts medium of instruction?

Teaching with the use of the mother tongue is one of the highlights of the K-12 program. It is believed
that students learn best with their first language. In light of this, English and Filipino will both be
taught as independent subjects starting Grade 1. Both languages will therefore become the primary
medium of instruction in Junior High School (JHS) and Senior High School (SHS).
At the dawn of this arrangements implementation, the issue of Filipino teachers having lesser load
than any other faculty members arises, with alternatives of teaching regular subjects such as theology,
philosophy and psychology.
However, Dr. Josefina Mangahis, chair of the Filipino department says that her first response regarding
the issue is qualification. Kwalipikado ba ang faculty na magtuturo ng pilosopiya sa wikang Filipino?
Dapat doctor of philosophy, may specialization siya sa pilosopiya. Ganun din sa iba pang asignatura o
kurso. Kwalipikasyon ang unang-una, she explains. The Filipino department has the objective to
spread the usage of Filipino language and at the same time persuade everyone to use it as engagement
with our Filipino culture.
The plan of lesser loads for Filipino teachers has yet to be finalized and officially adopted according to
Mr. David Michael San Juan, professor from the Filipino Department.

Filipino subjects in DLSU

In other universities such as the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Ateneo De Manila University
(Ateneo), philosophy and theology subjects are openly taught in Filipino. Philosophy subjects are
taught in English at UP, while in Ateneo, one can choose between English or Filipino for philosophy.
In Ateneo, there are core subjects in philosophy and theology that are required to be taught in Filipino.
Usually the mode of teaching and deliverables are in Filipino but the readings discussed are in English.
For instance, Fr. Roque Ferriols SJ, initiated Filipino philosophy and stuck to the concept of considering
language as essential to the Filipino way of thinking. Looking intently at the course, it is more suitable
for the concepts to be taught in Filipino than in English with concepts such as pagkatao or
Inside the University, the teaching of history and philosophy subjects in the vernacular depends on the
professors preference. There is also Sikolohiyang Pilipino, one of the major subjects specified under
the Psychology program which happens to be a subject taught in UP as well.
Moreover, theology subjects in DLSU are predominantly taught in English, unlike the case in UP and
Ateneo. Edna Cadsawan, professor from TRED department shares however, I often would be using
English or Taglish in situations where I have foreign students, otherwise I do not see any problem
teaching theology in Filipino.

Medium of instruction

Most of the professors have good impressions regarding Filipino as a

medium of instruction in the long run. They believe that it will be a
good opportunity for Filipinos to be unified through the use of the
primary language as the medium in education.
In the long run, the national language must be really used as the sole
medium of instruction in all subjects and levels so that it will become
fully intellectualized like any national language of a First World country.
However, I think that even if Filipino will be used as the sole medium of
instruction, theres still a need to teach it as a subject, San Juan
Generally, it is perceived that teaching in Filipino depends on the skills
of the professor and the needs of the students, regardless if it will be
easier or harder for the teachers to teach and the students to
One advantage has been identified by Cadsawan, If the professor uses
Filipino in teaching, he will be able to expound some more particularly
on areas which may be somehow difficult to simplify by just explaining
in English. On the part of the Filipino students, they should be able to
better understand or deepen their knowledge on what the professor
will be conveying.
According to San Juan, students may be able to improve their skills in
using the language and maybe even master it despite the present
difficulties at using full Filipino. It is not very difficult because our
students are very intelligent. A number of them are able to master
foreign languages such as Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French and
German. I see no reason why they will be unable to master and use
On the contrary, there are some disadvantages, the most popular one
being how the Filipino language is unfit for some subjects. San Juan
thinks that every faculty member is not psychologically ready to use
Filipino as medium in teaching. Some will insist Filipino cant be used
for some subjects. We insist, just the same, that Filipino is ready to be
used as medium of instruction in all subjects. If Bahasa Indonesia and
Bahasa Melayu did it, Filipino can do it too, he furthers.

Another disadvantage, as Cadsawan says, is not only the existence of

foreign students in the University but also the reality that most of the
students are more proficient and can communicate better in English.

Usage of code-switching
Although bilinguality, the ability to speak two languages fluently
(English and Filipino languages in this case) allows professors to have
the edge in teaching their subjects and to communicate with their
students more effectively, improper use of such ability led to the rise
and continuing usage of code-switching, which Dr. Julio Teehankee,
Dean of College of Liberal Arts, thinks is the problem nowadays.
The problem perhaps is code-switching, the use of Taglish, he says.
There has been an existing policy that prohibits the use of code
switching, which is one of the recommendations given by our PAASCU
review: to minimize the use of code-switching.

Taking the extra step

According to some professors, having a class with foreigners is a
disadvantage in teaching using the mother tongue. The CLA dean
thinks otherwise. With the dawn of ASEAN economic community,
Teehankee sees this as an opportunity for foreigners, especially those
from Southeast Asian countries, who dare take the extra step of
studying the language itself.
Part of the framework of ASEAN and the building of economic
community is also the internationalization of education. What I see
here is an opportunity for citizens of other Southeast Asian countries to
come here and study Filipino, he says.
In line with the establishment of community, he explains that the
country could also send Filipinos who, in turn, are also interested in
learning languages of Southeast Asian countries, like Bahasa and Thai.
Teehankee also revealed that the University is planning for a Southeast
Asian Studies program where there would be exchange programs
between those interested learning each countries languages. We are

planning eventually to set up a Southeast Asian studies program under

the International Studies department, together with other departments
in College of Liberal Arts and we will have exchange programs with
other Southeast Asian universities in which they will come here, our
counterparts from Thailand, Malaysia or Indonesia and they can study
Filipino and we can send our students to their respective countries.