Tag Archive | Firth McEachern

Use of Mother Tongue Beyond Grade 3

young_boy_28480_mthManong Joe,

Here is a copy of a PowerPoint Presentation about late-exit or extended Mother Tongue (MT) education, which you may find useful.

It includes extensive research about the role of MT in upper primary grades, possibilities for extended MT in the Philippines, and constraints.

I presented it as a plenary session at the K-12 International Research Conference in Bicol last week. My goal was to make a comprehensive summary of extended MT education and related issues.

Kind regards,



Click on the title, Use of Mother Tongue Beyond Grade 3, to view the PowerPoint Presentation. When PowerPoint opens, choose “Slide Show”  on the menu bar and click on the green arrow to have the presentation on full screen. Tap on the space bar to advance to the next page, or if you’re using a tablet or smartphone, you may have to scroll from page to page.

Use of Mother Tongue Beyond Grade 3

By Firth McEachern
Consultant on Language and Education

2010 MLE Initiatives: A Review

It’s always heartwarming to learn about the initiatives of our fellow educators and MLE advocates to promote the use of the local language in education. For example during the MLE Conference in CDO last February, I was so amazed to see how DepEd Region 4-A and Region 5 filled up the whole room assigned to them with books and instructional materials they made in the local languages. The Lubuagan and the Valenzuela City teachers also displayed a lot of their own original works. Continue reading

MLE Implementation: Some Hard Choices Will Have To Be Made

The “Goldilocks” of MLE Implementation:
Possibilities in overcoming
demographic challenges

By Firth McEachern

Firth McEachern

The antithesis of mother tongue-based Multilingual Education (MLE) is an educational system wherein the majority of students learn in a non-native language. This is common in African countries that use colonial languages like French or English to teach their children, few of whom are native French or English speakers. This is also the case of the Philippines, which currently teaches in only two languages—English and Tagalog-based Filipino—despite there being between 120 and 171 indigenous Philippine languages. Since English is the mother tongue of only a few tens of thousands of Filipinos, and native Tagalog speakers account for some 30% of the population, this means that the majority of Filipino students are learning in languages not native to their family, geographic location, community, or cultural heritage.

Fortunately, the present bilingual system in the Philippines is being phased out. In July 2009, the Department of Education issued Department Order 74, declaring mother tongue-based Multilingual Education (MLE) a department-wide policy for all educational establishments under its aegis. In particular, the use of the mother tongue as a medium of instruction will be implemented across all subjects in primary school, starting in kindergarten and Grade One in 2012 and adding a new grade level each subsequent year. Continue reading

DO NOT Leave Your Language Alone

“Languages are increasingly viewed as scarce national resources,” wrote Joshua A. Fishman, noted linguist and author. “Speech and writing communities the world over are not only expected to exert themselves on behalf of their own languages, but to feel remiss if they fail to do so when their language resources are threatened.”  He views languages as “not unlike flora and fauna, agricultural or environmental resources, and all other such improvable or alterable resources whose quality can be influenced by planned human intervention (emphasis supplied).”

Hence, Fishman’s admonition:  “DO NOT Leave Your Language Alone“, which is the title of one of his important books.

The central idea is that if you don’t take care of your own language, nobody else will.  “DO NOT Leave Your Language Alone” is Fishman’s own thinking on counteracting what he noted as the benign or aggressive indifference of the powers-that-be toward minority languages.

“The most general reason for the neglect of reversing language shift (RLS),” notes Fishman in his book, Reversing Language Shift, “is probably the fact that RLS is an activity of minorities, frequently powerless, unpopular with outsiders and querulous amongst themselves; it is an activity that is very often unsuccessful and that strikes many intelligent laymen and otherwise intelligent social scientists as ‘unnatural’, i.e., as counter to some supposedly ‘natural’ drift of historical events or the ‘obvious’ direction of social change.  It is hard for self-serving mainstream intellectual spokesmen and institutions to be sympathetic to the lingering, cantankerous, neither fully alive nor fully dead quality of many (perhaps most) efforts on behalf of receding minority languages (and the majority of sidestream scholars too are ultimately dependent on the mainstream for their perspectives, if not for their very livelihoods)…”

So, to all the Ilocanos in La Union, and the rest of Ilocandia, and to all the others whose ethnic languages are threatened by Tagalog:  DO NOT LEAVE YOUR LANGUAGE ALONE!

Limitations on School Effectiveness in Connection with Mother Tongue Transmission

[The following is an excerpt from Joshua A. Fishman’sReversing Language Shift“.  As Firth McEachern pointed out in the previous post below, the La Union LGU effort to reverse language (Ilocano) decline would be multisectoral as in the Catalan model, and that in spite of its limitations in mother tongue transmission, as Fishman asserts here, “education is one of many sectors that must be addressed, at a serious policy level…”]

By Joshua A. Fishman



A Grant Benefits a Program that has Helped Children of the Poor

The Rockefeller Foundation will spend $15 million in the next five years expanding a program that seeks to better the educational performance of poor children, especially from minorities, by promoting a shared belief in the value of education among teachers, parents and pupilss….

The [experimental] program requires that the local schools be managed by an ‘active partnership’ of school staff and students’ parents that work to iprove student self-conficence and ultimately their performance.

… The program is based on the belief that like all youth, children from poor families must learn proper values and behavior to be psychologically ready for schooling and must want to do well in school

… Parents have to believe in the school … and the school staff has to believe in the parents.  Working together is a way to break down the distrust and suspicion, to show they all have the children’s interest at heart.

(New York Times, January 24, 1990, p.B7)




J. Fishman


‘The School Can Do It!’

Most modern RLS (Reversing Language Shift) movements have quickly and naturally, almost as a matter of course, moved to emphasize schools and schooling as the central thrust and process of the entire RLS endeavor.  Perhaps it is time that someone asked the question that few of them actually stopped to ask:  ‘How much can the school, in and of itself (even the type 4a school, overlooking for the moment that many RLS movements have actually opted for the initially more dubious and problematic type 4b school), reasonably be expected to do for RLS in general, e.g., in connection with fostering the early acquisition and more fluent mastery of Xish, and most particularly, for fostering the cumulative, intergenerational transmissibility of any language which is still all too seldom a mother tongue?’  Clearly, without the intergenerational transmissibility that we have stressed throughout our discussion, every new generation must begin again at ‘point zero’, i.e., monolingual in Yish and in need of a tremendous societal ‘catch-up’ operation in order to merely wind up where the prior generation had left off, without the benefit of the head start that an incremental increase in mother tongue use so obviously provides for any RLS movement. Continue reading