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DepEd helping keep languages alive

Thursday, May 02, 2013 12:00 AM    Views : 4039by:Ina Hernando-Malipot

Manila, Philippines --- The Department of Education is helping keep indigenous languages alive by mandating their use as a medium of instruction of young children as part of its Mother Tongue-Based Multi-Lingual Education (MTB-MLE) program.

DepEd Undersecretary for Programs and Projects Dina Ocampo-Cristobal said 10 more local languages are being eyed to be included in the MTB-MLE program.

Last year, DepEd started the use of 12 local languages in teaching students from Kindergarten to Grade 3 in some schools nationwide.

The 12 major languages that were include in the MTB-MBLE program are Tagalog, Kapampangan, Pangasinense, Iloko, Bikol, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray, Tausug, Maguindanaoan, Maranao, and Chabacano.

This year the DepEd is considering to include six more local languages in the program upon the request of various regions—particularly the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)—while four others are being carefully studied to ensure "that there will be no overlap," said Cristobal.

She said that DepEd will release the list of the additional local languages once the "learning materials have been finalized."

With the goal of developing well-rounded and life-long learners under the K to 12 basic education reform program, DepEd implemented the languages spoken by students at home to be used to study lessons up to Grade 3 through institutionalizing the teaching of MTB-MLE as one of the subjects from Grade 1 to Grade 3 and as the medium of instruction from kinder to Grade 3 last school year.

In a speech during the 60th anniversary of Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), Education Secretary Armin Luistro said the MBT-BLE is more than just about making it easier to educate young children.

"At first, I thought it [MTB-MLE] was just language but when I visited schools, I realized that that it was about young people speaking from the heart, it's about teachers trying to contextualize their lessons and more importantly, it's about a nation in search for its own identity," he said.

"Primary education using the mother tongue helps the process of learning by introducing concepts to students in the language they are most used to."

He said that the DepEd partnership with SIL "also helps in the preservation of indigenous Philippine languages that are in danger" and even "reviving those that are extinct" if possible.

The Philippines has 181 languages but only 177 are currently being used, the SIL said.

Out of the 181, 153 languages are considered "healthy"; 14 are "in trouble"; 10 are "dying" and four are already "extinct" as revealed by SIL.

Stressing the importance of language development, SIL Philippines Incoming Director Jason Griffiths, said "every language has value," and it is a "right of every community to develop their own language."

However, due to changes brought by globalization, language endangerment has become prevalent.

Luistro said that part of the educational reform being pushed by DepEd is to discover the Filipino soul.

"Even at this stage, we Filipinos are still trying to discover our soul," he said.

"It's important for us to recognize our roots and how we communicate so what better way to do that than through our native languages?" he added.

When institutionalized last June, DepEd met a lot of criticisms from various sectors regarding the use of mother tongue in schools, particularly in areas where more than one dialect is being spoken. There were also groups that opposed its implementation citing "inadequate teacher training and lack of materials written in first language of L1."

Cristobal said that DepEd will continue to improve the MTB-MLE, adding that the support for the use of the child's language for learning new concepts is very strong worldwide.

"There will always be criticisms particularly if you are promoting a language," Cristobal said. "And as materials are used, there's feedback so what's important is to figure out how to possibly incorporate these and continuously improve the materials."

Currently, a total of 921 schools nationwide have been pioneering the MTB-MLE. The mother tongue pilot program is implemented with assistance from the Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao, Third Elementary Education Program, Translators Association of the Philippines, Save the Children Foundation, and the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL.)

Cristobal said that DepEd has already organized a team of MTB-MLE trainers for each region composed of education supervisors. The existing MTB-MLE regional training team organized for the pilot schools shall be the same team that will be responsible for the division and school-based training of teachers on MTB-MLE for the K to 12.


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