MLE Training of Trainors held at WVSU


Ched Arzadon

Reporting from Iloilo City–the immediate environs where the original MLE PIONEER, Dr. Jose V. Aguilar conducted his first Iloilo Experiment (1948-1954) in which he successfully demonstrated that “the experimental group (using Hiligaynon as the MOI) was significantly superior in proficiency (language and reading tests) and subject matter (arithmetic and social studies tests) than the control group in English”–Ched Arzadon, our peripatetic prime MLE advocate, filed the following update:

Friday, November 19, 2010 10:15 PM: Hello! I’m here in Iloilo City for MLE lecture forum held yesterday pm at WVSU (West Visayas State University) and for the phase 2 of MLE training for 100 regional trainers.

The West Visayas State U MLE task force headed by Dr. Purita Bilbao did a great job in putting together the lecture forum. Their dean, Dr. Ramon Cabag, gave a presentation about their own Jose Aguilar Vernacular Education Experiment  in 1948 that extended to the 50s. He mentioned that Dr. Aguilar also initiated to include in their BSE Ed program a course on teaching using the vernacular.  Leaders of Hiligaynon language advocate group, Sumakwelan, were present to share their sentiments. DepEd regional director, Dr. Mildred Garay presented the MLE Agenda for DepEd Region VI.  Most of the participants were young education students. At the end they demonstrated their commitment to use MLE by signing their name on a large frame and reciting their pledge of commitment. The event was covered by GMA7 and footages were beamed in the local evening  news.

The MLE Training of Trainors (TOT) is going very well. It’s a delight to see our trainer-participants demonstrate a stronger conviction for MLE. Their big books have stronger local culture content. A number of participants conducted teaching demo using various MLE teaching strategies. The next phase will be in January 2011 at Zamboanga City.

PS:  The article below appeared in today’s issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer:

COMMENTARY: ‘You only learn to read once’

By Butch Hernandez
Philippine Daily Inquirer, Posted date: November 20, 2010 

THE ABOVE quote comes from Dr. Yolanda Quijano, the Department of Education’s undersecretary for programs. We were discussing Department Order 74, which seeks to make mother tongue-based Multilingual Education (MLE) a standard teaching practice throughout the public education system. Undersecretary Quijano revealed that by February 2011, the DepEd shall have completed the fourth and final phase of its training of National Trainors for MLE. These trainors would then be deployed to every administrative region, where they are tasked with transferring MLE teaching techniques and strategies to their regional counterparts.

In today’s world, reading fluently and writing equally well in English are key competencies that learners need to succeed in school and later on in life, as they pursue their chosen careers. That’s because English has become the language of wide usage in the 21st century. International businesses and global markets communicate in English as a matter of course. So does the global academic community. The standard interface of many web-based applications is in English; but the Internet being what it is, a number of websites do provide the user with other language options.

Quijano and MLE advocates like Greg and Diane Dekker of the Summer Institute of Linguistics and Ched Arzadon of MLE Philippines all assert that the best way to attaining “fluent reader” level in English is if the child is first taught to read in the language that he speaks at home., an online reading resource center, defines “‘fluent reader’ as one who has successfully moved from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn.’ Reading is automatic and is done with expression and proper pauses, (and the fluent reader’s) energy is devoted to understanding, and (he has) good command and use of the various comprehension strategies.

“(Fluent readers) read a wide range of text types and do so independently. They will continue to refine and develop their reading skills as they encounter more difficult reading materials. But for the most part, they are capable of improving their reading skills and selection of materials independently through increased practice.”

Dr. Rose Villaneza, the DepEd’s point person for MLE, says that once the young learner has learned to read in his first language or L1, his ability to acquire second-language skills (L2) increases exponentially.

This phenomenon is best illustrated by Jim Cummins’ Dual Iceberg Theory. Cummins says that you could look at L1 and L2 as the tip of two icebergs. They are visibly different but underneath the surface, the two icebergs are fused such that the two languages do not function separately. Both languages operate through the same central processing system. Cummins calls this the “common underlying proficiency.”

The Collier and Thomas (2000) research proves this beyond doubt. Drawing data from 2 million student records from 1982 to 1999 involving more than 150 home languages, Collier and Thomas determined that “the amount of formal schooling in students’ home language was the strongest indicator of success in English.”

In promulgating DO 74 so that MLE practice becomes a key teaching strategy, the DepEd is on the right track. Dr. Virginia Rojas, an internationally recognized expert in second language proficiency among school populations, claims that the possibilities for schools to create links between curriculum subjects will be enhanced when mother tongue provision is integrated into the curriculum.

However, DO 74 was issued just last year so the entire DepEd effort is still at the early stages of development. Quijano says that there are about 100 schools right now spread out in various DepEd schools divisions that can be considered “MLE-capable.” She and Villaneza however believe that the situation will greatly improve sooner rather than later.

In fact, Quijano said that a comprehensive six-point strategic plan has already been drawn up to guide the DepEd in its drive to institutionalize MLE. The plan’s success indicators are in the areas of social preparation, in-service training of teachers and managers, materials development, pre-service teacher education and policy and resource mobilization and an assessment, monitoring and evaluation component.

We will discuss the MLE strategic plan in greater detail in our subsequent write-ups. For now, what matters is that in the midst of all the operational difficulties it faces, the DepEd still finds the time and the will to implement DO 74. Of course, the DepEd knows that it cannot go it alone. Quijano says they welcome any help that the private sector can extend in this regard.

Well, the Foundation for Worldwide People Power/170+ Talaytayan education alliance has good news for the undersecretary. We are now primed to train teachers and school heads in the art and practice of MLE where it matters most—at the school community and district level.

When MLE finally becomes one of the building blocks of early schooling, at the very least we can envision graduates who are genuinely proficient in at least three languages: their local one, Filipino and English. At best, we will see new generations of Filipinos who treasure their heritage and are fully capable of succeeding in an exceedingly global economy.

Butch Hernandez ( is the executive director of the Foundation for Worldwide People Power.

2 thoughts on “MLE Training of Trainors held at WVSU

  1. Hi Joe,

    Has there been a study between the proficiency level of Ilokano students and the Tagalog students? If so, were the Tagalog students better, since Pilipino, similar to their language is being used since the first grade, and the Ilokanos did not use theirs?Were the participants at random or pre-selected that could alter the credibility of the results?

    As I said before, I am for/with the MLE program but caution must be excercised (just enough number of classes for the first sets of study) in order not to strain the financial status of the governments involved and we can not rely on donations that are not there yet. Once evaluations are in and compared with the standing of the old system, adjustments and revisions could then be made to improve it before it is widely implemented.

    I agree that using the vernacular as MOI is better than any other language since they have used it over and over again in their daily lives. I agree with Mr Cummin’s theory of the two languages in L1 and L2 operate through the same processing system but they are not interdependent because they have two different structures, and L2 even if it is their first time using it may have better result because the students have already acquired a higher level of comprehension and understanding due to their increased age.

  2. i am not aware of such study. yes it would be costly at first due to the need for massive teachers training and production of materials but later when we begin to see results like less drop out and higher learning outcomes we will realize that it is worth it. i think cummins is not referring to language structures but to the cognitive structure that processes languages and other inputs.

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