Invitation to Make MLE Content Open

No. 2 on the Enclosure to DepEd Order No. 74 approved by former Sec. Jesli Lapus on July 14, 2009 — more than a year ago — requires the “Development, production and distribution of inexpensive instructional materials in the designated language at the school, division, and regional levels with a special priority on beginning reading and children’s literature.  These materials should be as much as possible, original, reflecting local people, events, realities, and appropriate to the language, age, and culture of the learners.

After more than a year of MLE training and content development, there has to be a body of work out there waiting to be made public, put to test, analyzed, improved or pedagogically repurposed.  Multilingual Philippines and a companion website,, are waiting eagerly to publish whatever MLE content (big books, procedural info, white paper, etc.) which has been developed in fulfillment of the requirements of DepEd 74.

We would like to see all the MLE content developed in various participating mother tongue (L1) communities so that stakeholders in those communities — subject matter experts or just simple folks — have the opportunity to examine the stuff, critique it, or recommend ways to improve it. It would be nice to fashion a model for every conceivable type of MLE content for each L1 community so that stakeholders in the community could keep on improving it to make it something of a standard the rest in the community could copy or emulate. There’s very skimpy resource to waste in re-inventing the wheel.

Multilingual Philippines and will be glad to serve as repository for all the MLE content, freely accessible 24/7 by everyone who has a need to access it.

First, LET’S MAKE ALL MLE CONTENT OPEN! The actual MLE assessment questions may be left out for MLE teachers; however, MLE assessment theories and procedures could be kept open, leaving them available for continued discussion to search ways to make them even more effective.

10 thoughts on “Invitation to Make MLE Content Open

  1. Joe, let me express my deepest appreciation for the support you’ve given to the MTB-MLE movement. You’ve given some of the most useful suggestions and more practical ideas on how to implement this new program. I wonder if you have information on how the more successful curriculum programs in pre-school, kindergarten and early grades in other countries have been organized. I have looked at the curricula in Toronto Ministry of Education and was impressed by it in terms of its simplicity and focus on the most relevant skills and competencies expected of elementary graders. Have you looked at their system? We will inform advocates of MTBMLE about your invitation and I hope that they respond in turn by sharing what in their experience works and what doesn’t. Anyway, just keep it coming.


    Ricardo Ma. Nolasco, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor
    Department of Linguistics
    University of the Philippines

  2. Hello Ricky,

    Haven’t read much about Toronto K-12 situation but now that you mentioned it, I’ll probably try to find out some more about it.

    I can only call your attention to what I have read and in fact dealt in my post, Catalan: Act No. 1, of 7th January 1998, on linguistic policy, in Multilingual Philippines.

    You’re aware, of course, that Catalan is one of the L1s of Spain. So when you read Chapter 3: Education of this Act, it would be like you’re looking at a Bicol (L1) language community, or an Ilocano L1 community, or Cebuano L1 community, and so forth. In “Reversing Language Shift” by Joshua A. Fishman, the author cited the Catalan experience as one of three success stories in the effort to reverse language shift. Perhaps you can pick up some useful stuff from the Catalan experience that may be distilled somewhat for the multilingual situation in the Philippines.

    Yup, any thing I’m able to do to help the MLE cause, albeit my resources are severely limited.


  3. Dear Ricky,

    I must hasten to remind you of Joshua Fishman’s “Limitations on School Effectiveness in Connection with Mother Tongue Transmission” (Chapter 3 in Reversing Language Shift). Fishman writes:

    “The over-reliance on the school with respect to the attainment of RLS (Reversing Language Shift) goals is merely an example of the more widespread tendency to seek out and depend upon one-factor solutions to a very involved, multivariate problem. The ‘school alone can do it’ view has parallels in the view that ‘the media alone can do it’ and, on an even more widespread basis, in the view that’s controlling the work sphere (the economy) alone can do it’. In addition to being simplistic, these views also lead RLS-efforts to bank on processes that are distant from the immediate nexus of mother tongue transmission and that feed back to reinforce that nexus only haphazardly and after considerable delay. They may serve to reinforce Xish (L1) horizontally, by broadening the scope of its functions, but they do too little to foster it vertically, by contributing to its intergenerational transmissibility. Such broadening efforts enable minority (or minoritized) languages whose intergenerational transmissability is no longer in serious doubt, to move energetically into the higher status spheres of modern life. Their precedents mesmerize RLser who labor on behalf of intergenerationally weaker, infinitely more threatened language-in-culture constellations. The resulting mismatch of priorities can be not only disappointing (as in the case of Irish) but devastating as well (as in the case of Scottish Gaelic, with only some 80,000 speakers and a well nigh complete reliance on the school and other higher order ‘props’). What is sauce for the goose is by no means necessarily sauce for the gander.

    But even appropriately focused RLS-efforts on behalf of seriously threatened languages are becoming increasingly difficult to institute and will doubtlessly become even more so. As urban neighborhoods and communities become ever more fragmented and difficult to serve, RLS-efforts will require increasingly more integrative focus and sophistication in order to make a dent…”

    I believe it won’t hurt to reach out to our friend, Firth McEachern, to get some valuable insight into the Province of La Union’s “integrative” effort to coalesce MLE in the schools with the active participation/leadership of the provincial government, the LGUs, NGOs, and other stakeholders to regain Ilocano as the dominant language in the province but which usage, on account of the old bilingual program, has been steadily eroded by Filipino and, to a lesser degree, English.

    Should the language advocacy in La Union succeed, the language initiative there could become a compelling model for the rest of the country.


  4. Thanks Joe for the Fishman quote. I am also aware of the efforts in La Union. In fact I planned to write about it, but it seems that the ordinance in my opinion was not as newsworthy as I originally thought it would be. Moreover, the proposal hasn’t been approved yet. There have been more successful ventures for instance in Puerto Princesa where the local government has passed a resolution endorsing the use of the local language (Cuyonon) for official business. These moves while laudable have not gathered momentum among the youth especially among the students and might end up as mere tokens. The problem with some language advocates is that they want to substitute one form of (foreign) monolingualism with another form of (native) monolingualism, which simply will not do. In the early period of our struggle (of a new type), we wanted to emphasize the multilingual nature of the movement, and so we popularized MLE. But we had to widen the name recall as MTBMLE lest the public forget that the movement is mother tongue based. An indication that we are forging ahead is the increasing number of co-authors who have endorsed the Gunigundo Bill. From the original four or so a year ago, we now have 60. The proponents of the English bill are around 130, down from 220, still a formidable lot, but decreasing in strength. Some people mistake our efforts at legislation as our principal arena of struggle. Far from it. We do not believe that legislation is a crucial factor in changing the prevailing negative attitude towards mother tongue use, multilingualism and MTBMLE. It is in the schools and the local communities in the provinces that we are planting the seeds of the movement. Right now, that movement is growing. More and more people are growing tired of talk and are actually implementing our program in the public schools and the local communities. The newest development is that the universities both public and private are now revising their teacher education programs to align with MTBMLE. At the end of summer, after all the training programs we have planned push through, our forces I predict will have grown a hundred fold. Have a nice day and keep up the excellent work. The force be with you.


  5. Dear Ricky,

    Thanks for the heads up on the various LGU/NGO ragtag efforts to deal with MTBMLE. It is understandable that their level or depth of understanding of and commitment to MTBMLE oftentimes eschews the “professional” or “studied” variety, perhaps because they may not have the resources — knowledge-wise — to ride what you in your professional domain may call a sociolinguistic tiger.

    Guess what? Instead of dismissing/ignoring these nascent language activists as just another form of “monolingualist” advocates, Talaytayan could actually treat them as an OPPORTUNITY to — for lack of a better word — “proselytize” on MTBMLE. The LGUs’/NGOs’ active involvement in recapturing the dominance of their respective L1s carefully meshed with the mandate of the 1987 Constitution re Filipino and English as our national languages PLUS the careful but aggressive implementation of DepEd 74 via curricular realignments — all integrated and focused toward the common goal of preserving our rich cultural diversity… ah, what a muse!

    “The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep…”

    I know that in this collaborative effort, you and I cannot just rhapsodize; 99% of the effort = we stay focused and sweat it up!


  6. Hi Ricky,

    I did read about the curricula in Toronto Ministry of Education ( and

    However, I keep gravitating to Singapore’s (,, for its similarity with the Philippine situation: we both are interested in keeping English as MOI (by constitutional mandate) and I suppose, rightly so. We both have ethnic languages, the only obvious difference being that Singapore has less by a wide margin! The other similarities are we have a 6-grade primary school system and a 4-year secondary school system — well, some have 5 years. And here’s where the Singapore government is kind of really smart/sneaky: it sandwiched the additional 2 to 3 years of school (it cleverly calls this school segment “Junior College”, “Polytechnic”, “ITE”) right after high school and before college which could be a 3-year or 4-year term. That’s the most ingenious way to avoid the resistance to the proposed K+12 basic education cycle! The impact of the additional 2-3 years after high school is cleverly softened by the reduced number of college years to 3 in some cases.

    I like it that even as the MOI is English, each student is required to study his L1 to keep him in tune with his ethnic culture and that an appropriate knowledge of his L1 is a requisite for entering college. Quite frankly, I think this is an ideal balance for MLE.

    The other reason I’m impressed with the Singapore system is that it has consistently produced participants in TIMSS whose performance is consistently topnotch. They must be doing something good that we should examine a little more closely if there are some things in their system that we could use to perk up our own educational system. Obviously, we should not copy their system blatantly, especially at this time that their economy is much better than ours and because the same well developed economy could well support the educational system they have.


  7. Thank you Joe! I’ve been following the different ideas and so far this is the one that has caught my attention. I see the balance and the applicability. I hope K+12 people are reading this. This is a perfect marriage of K+12 and MLE!!!

    Dean, College of Education
    Principal CUBED
    Director, Education Development and Linkages
    Capitol University

    TEC Representative for Mindanao (DepEd)
    Member, Technical Panel for Teacher Education, CHED
    President, PAFTE (Phil Assoc for Teacher Education)
    Mobile No. 0917 7122870

  8. @Dr. De Torres: Coming from someone in your positions of authority, your comments are the variety that can move mountains… Let’s keep the ball rolling.

  9. Instead of the proposed K+12 basic education cycle which would be funded completely by the government, a K+10 (Kindergarten + 6 years grade school + 4 years high school) would save the government 2 years of the additional budgetary outlays. If we instead adopt a Junior College/Polytechnic/Institute of Technical Education system like what they have in Singapore, our students have a chance to go to school to learn skills to survive and compete for jobs after graduation, especially for those who decide against a tertiary education for whatever reason. If students are going to matriculate for Junior College/Polytechnic/Institute of Technical Education, whoa, that’s a masterstroke for saving the government a whopping budgetary headache…

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