July 23, 2009 Editorial:
‘The use of the mother tongue in the early grades
has long been accepted.’
Finally, teaching science has won over politics and purported economic benefits in the decision to use students’ mother tongue as the medium of instruction up to Grade 3. The bilingual policy (use of Pilipino and English) is bad enough. Some legislators, however, are pressing for a return to English as the sole medium of instruction, citing economic benefits from an English-proficient workforce. The mother tongue policy adopted by the Department of Education should put an end to the debate.
The use of the mother tongue in the early grades has long been accepted as the most effective way of teaching kids how read and write. In fact, teachers were routinely using the mother tongue in the early grades long before the adoption of the latest DepEd policy. Otherwise, the teacher would look like somebody from another planet mouthing gibberish if he insisted on starting out in Pilipino or English.
International and local researches have shown that:
- Learners acquire reading skills more easily in their first language than in a second language.
- Pupils who start early, read and write in their first language learn a second language like English more quickly than those taught exclusively in a second language.
- Learners develop cognitive, linguistic and academic competence much faster in their first than in a second language.
Given these unassailable findings, how come the prejudice toward using the mother tongue as a medium of instruction?
It’s just plain ignorance of the results of contemporary pedagogical researches, we suppose, that drives some people to insist that Pilipino or English or a combination or both be exclusively used as the medium of instruction.
Perhaps, they too are still suffering from the old prejudice against “native dialects,” which were considered to be sub-standard variation of some language. They have yet to recognize that what were dismissed as “dialects” before are full-blown and vibrant languages, each with its own orthography, grammar and vocabulary.
But whatever the reason, we cannot allow the education of our children to be sacrificed at the altar of nationalism in the case of those who are pushing for Pilipino or of globalization in the case of those who are pushing for English.