Transfer to the other languages once Filipino or English has been acquired to use these skills in thinking and articulating thought and Be used in the process of acquiring English and Filipino more effectively Social Development
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Maintains local language and culture while providing national/ international language acquisition and instruction Promotes learners’ integration into the national society without forcing them to sacrifice their linguistic and cultural heritage. Using the culture the child knows enabling immediate comprehension from which new concepts can be built- going form the known to the unknown.
Meaning based education that enables students to learn well with the understanding of what the teacher is saying. Be well prepared to enter and achieve well in the mainstream education system. Source: Gazette of the Philippines
In an article by Cruz (2011) under grading P-Noy the country’s president Pres. “Noy Noy” Aquino said, “My view on this is larger than just the classroom. We should become tri- lingual as a country; Learn English well and connect to the world; Learn Filipino well and connect to our country; retain your mother tongue and connect to your heritage”. In light to the Legal basis in the 1987 Constitution (Article XIV Sec 7), For purposes of communication and instruction, the official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and, until otherwise provided by law, English. The regional languages are the auxiliary official languages in the regions and shall serve as auxiliary media of instruction therein, and as supported by the 1987 Philippine Constitution (Article XXVII Sec 30) which states that the child has the right to an education and to learn and use the language of his family, and as strengthened by RA 8780 EECD Law (Sec 5a) which states that schools and institutions shall use the child’s first language as the medium of instruction and Education for all should enable everyone to speak in the vernacular, Filipino and English, RA 9155 or EFA/MDG. Under BESRA KRT 3, all persons beyond school- age regardless of their level of schooling should acquire the essential competence to be considered functionally literate in their mother tongue in Filipino or in English.
Theories of Language and Cognition
This new approach in education in the Philippines under the Mother- Tongue based education in the newly implemented K-12 program has so much promise when it comes to having a solid foundation in literacy with children and thus this would create a ripple effect as they progress in their succeeding years not only academically but also in life itself. There had been several studies and researches done showing the efficacy of using the majority’s mother tongue language in learning a minority language, and in the case of the Philippines it is a country that embraces several mother tongue languages according to Lewis, Simons, Fenig (2013) the country includes around 120- 170 identified mother tongues spoken in different parts of the country; the Department of Education in the Philippines has somehow introduced and currently approved 12 mother tongues to be used in each respective areas that use such mother tongue languages, the 12 identified major language or lingua are as follow: a) Tagalog b) Kapampangan c) Pangasinense d) Iloko e) Bikol f) Cebuano g) Hiligaynon h) Waray i) Tausug j) Maguindanaoan k) Maranao; l) Chabacano.
Even with the studies and researches done to prove that having a good foundation of the understanding of the mother- tongue language of the child, there is still a whole lot of questions that rose with regards to parents’ aspirations for their children to learn English as early as Kindergarten since most have the mentality that learning the English language and being able to use the language in daily basis not only in school but also in social gatherings, homes and play area would make their children more appealing and would excel academically. To answer those questions, enlighten peoples’ mentalities and to clearly understand the underlying effect of the benefits mother tongue based education offers; let us first see the theories that would explain the scientific workings of language in several context. Under the theories of Language and Cognition as described by Cummin (1981) he clearly illustrated under the Common Underlying Proficiency (CUP) that the basis for students to further learn a new language or L2 is the cognition and language fundamentals that student’s learned from their primary language or L1. In other words, if a student has a strong foundation and is competent in their L1, they are most likely to be competent in the acquisition of a second language, the L2.
The Common Underlying Proficiency or CUP serves as the central operation system of both languages L1 and L2, Cummin (1981). In short, if there is comprehension on the water cycle in their L1, that formulated knowledge transfers to the comprehension of water cycle in another language or L2. In the Philippines’ case let us say that the water cycle as discussed in Bisaya (mother tongue used in Cebu) is learned it is of close certainty that learning the same context discussed in English (students’ L2) would also be learned by the students. Linguistic knowledge, as well as skills such as summarizing chapters, can also transfer between languages, Freeman & Freeman (2004). The results of many recent studies suggest that bilingualism can positively affect both intellectual and linguistic progress. These studies have reported that bilingual children exhibit a greater sensitivity to linguistic meanings and may be more flexible in their thinking than are monolingual children (Cummins and Swain, 1986; Diaz, 1986; Hakuta and Diaz, 1985; Ricciardelli, 1989). Most of these studies have investigated aspects of children’s metalinguistic development; in other words, children’s explicit knowledge about the structure and functions of language itself.
Another concept under Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) and consisting of the language skills that enables students to communicate in everyday social contexts at home or in group, Diaz- Rico & Weed (2006) and consists of more social cues, such as wave or a smile when a friend or acquaintance is seen, or a nod from a teacher or parent to affirm that the child is doing a good job. Since it is context embedded, L2 learners tend to develop it within 2 years; much more quickly than Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP). CALP can be seen of as academic, or school language and requires more complex thought process such as categorizing and analyzing. It focuses more on “abstract and decontextualized” Diaz- Rico & Weed (2010), higher- order thinking skills are required from students in this aspect, since the lack of context clues that CALP provides, it can take up to five years for English Language Learners or L2 to develop.
An important characteristic of the bilingual children in the more recent studies (conducted since the early 1960’s) is that, for the most part, they were developing what has been termed an additive form of bilingualism (Lambert, 1975); in other words, they were adding another language which is English as their second language to their repertory skills at no cost or disadvantage of their first language but instead these children were in the process of attaining high level of fluency and literacy in both of their two languages. To further develop such skills what teachers could do is to encourage students to keep reading stories, articles or animations in their native language for fun, or even talk about their day in school with their parents, guardians, friends and/ or social circle in their native language, and in order to allow for the development of BICS, teachers need to give students time to socialize throughout the school day. This time could be during a work time or even just at lunch and on the playground.
Without many opportunities to communicate socially, English Language Learners will struggle with basic language development. In the aspect of the development of CALP in an English Language Learner is one that will take more time and thought on the part of the teacher. When introducing content-specific language in the classroom, it is helpful to provide student with visuals and realia as much as possible. Giving students the opportunity to visually picture the concept will aid their understanding. When the concept is more abstract, as is the case with more upper-leveled grades, resources such as charts, graphs and graphic organizers may be particularly helpful in the development of CALP.
Cummins himself says that “not only does maintenance of L1 helps students to communicate with parents and grandparents in their families, and increase the collective linguistic competence of the entire society, it enhances the intellectual and academic resources of individual bilingual students” Cummins (2000). Children use language in social context, especially in building relationships, exchanging information, thinking and with the play of words and in communicating while learning. We know today that the ability to communicate is prior to linguistic development: before producing words to communicate, babies start to babble or show signs in order to communicate to their caregivers or family; then they start to name people and things around them to exchange information and make sense and meaning of the world they are in.
As they continue to develop, their language develops and they become more sophisticated communicators; from then on their personality develops and when they go to school they start playing with other children and cooperating and use their language(s) to interact with peers and adults and to learn. Therefore, children need language to socialize, to communicate, to understand the world and to learn. As Harding and Riley (1986) write: “A child learning a language is learning about the world, about how it is organised and how it works. This is very different from the adult learning a second language who tends to work the other way round: he brings his world with him and uses the language to try to express it.” When placed in a bilingual or multilingual setting, children are going to learn in that context through their first language or L1 and that it is important to acknowledge several facts around L1: that is the language acquired from home and from birth to their social circle and it does not stop by the time children enter school. And that the additional language would not develop and progress similarly with L1 since L1 is already pre- existing. As a teacher, one should always remember that just because a student speaks English well on the playground, does not mean their CALP language is fluent.
A teacher should encourage students to continue to read regularly in their native language, so that they can transfer these skills into English. As Cummins (2000) states: “Conceptual knowledge developed in one language helps to make input in the other language comprehensible. If a child already understands the concepts of “justice” or “honesty” in her own language, all she has to do is acquire the label for these terms in English. She has a far more difficult task, however, if she has to acquire both the label and the concept in her second language” Shoebottom (1996- 2012). Another tactic teachers can use is to allow students to work in groups with other who speak the same native language. Teachers could allow students to talk among themselves, use pictures or dictionaries if they don’t understand something. Teach all students the vocabulary before starting an new unit, this can benefit the entire class. Never judge a student for not understanding something taught to them in their L2.
It had been noticeable that almost anywhere the minorities are taken for granted. They are expected, if not required to assimilate to the socio- political edifices, social practices, and the social standards which are mostly built by the majority. Even then the majority still treats them less than equal, if not less than human. And with regards to the minority in the aspect of language in the Philippines, this particular learning initiative is ideal to the schools who caters to disabled students and also to students who have special needs. And with this new program which is the MTB- MLE it is most likely to enhance and help them make meaning to the concepts and topics that are being introduced, it would eliminate one aspect of understanding the word, their only concern by then is understanding the concept since they already understand the language use in the introduction of the content, thus making it easier for them and making it personal and relatable.
Since the aim of mainstreaming is to let students with special needs learn at par with regular students, this learning initiative would enhance that aim and would fully immerse students with special needs in the “regular world” it would also put them at par with the reality that regular students are in. This learning initiative would help these marginalized minorities through supporting the use of their mother tongue and helping them make sense of the words and the world they are in.
In line with the salient features of this MTB- MLE learning initiative, this would be powerful in the development of their language literacy, thus providing them with a strong educational foundation on their first language and bridging it in learning another language either the Filipino language or the English language and also, enabling them to use both or all languages in their own discretion, and given that students with special needs find it challenging in transferring concepts and instantly making meaning on concepts compared to regular students, this learning initiative would put their mother tongue as their solid foundation in figuring out the meaning of each topic and the concept introduced, making it less stressful and difficult.
Another feature that was presented focused on Cognitive development of students and learners, and with MTB- MLE learning initiative it is based on the child or students’ own known environment and bridges their world to the wider world so as the concept of “Known to Unknown” and the build- up of higher order thinking skills as to where they are capable of doing, may it be figuring out money change, or deciding as to where the safest part of the road to cross; and the understanding concepts learned through their mother tongue would then be transferred in another language, and making it less confusing since there is already prior knowledge and familiarity o the concept. In the aspect of social development, since these minorities have difficulty with regards to their social skills, this learning initiative would enable them to make it less threatening and intimidating for them to engage themselves in social circles, practices and activities, may it be joining a person or two in the playground and engaging in a simple play or social gathering. MTB- MLE enables these students to use their known culture and enabling them to immediately comprehend social practices, activities and realities based on their known world outside those in school—their known world at home, encouraging them to interact and share what they usually do at home since the language used at home, is the same language used in school, activities and social practices in their learning environment.
And the last salient feature discussed in this learning initiative is academic development, through MTB- MLE learning initiative, students with special needs are able to make meaning of what the teacher is saying since the language used is their mother tongue, the language most likely they use at home and are familiar to them. And also, it would allow this minority to be well prepared to achieve well in the mainstream education system as what most parents aspire their children to achieve. The learning experience of students with special needs would most likely be enhanced with this learning initiative since it is basing the acquisition of concepts, topics, context and ideas in their known language and allowing immediate acceptance to these concepts since the language used is already an experienced everyday activity. It would limit special needs students’ intimidation, threat and hesitation in engaging themselves socially, academically and emotionally, since they could clearly see that their fellow students, as well as teachers are using the same known language with regards to teaching and learning, and putting them on the same standard as of the other regular students, also allowing the minimal feel on the difference of regular students and special needs students.
This learning initiative would most likely encourage students to achieve more are would not make big concepts in different subjects intimidating since the language used are non- threatening to them, this would allow them to relate their everyday reality to the reality nationally, internationally and globally. Upon having a solid foundation on their mother tongue, students are also able to retain their local identity and national identity at the same time being able to find their global identity thus giving them a key to fully experience the world outside their known world through the help of worldwide web, media, and global activities. Though this learning initiative is very ideal to the marginalized minority which is towards students with special needs under mainstream program; this learning initiative poses a challenge to its proponents, especially the teachers, since being the product of the old education system which uses English as the medium of instruction and mother tongue was not in the picture in the whole education process, teachers would find it a constant challenge to cultivate their known mother tongue and use it in their teaching practices, learning once again how to write in their mother tongue at the same time being critical with the syntax and technicalities when it comes to the grammar in their mother tongue, since one could not directly translate English sentences to one’s mother tongue due to its arrangement and syntax.
Teachers have to shift to what they have known, used and practiced in their education as well as their profession, it is a shift to learning and entertaining their mother tongue and incorporating it to their instruction; it would mean relearning terminologies and changes in outlines, instructional materials, resources, references, educational strategies and practices; these challenges are to be faced head on and demands consistency and result from stakeholders such as schools, parents, students and the government.
This learning initiative is properly introduced and practiced, it would make a difference not only to the marginalized minority but also to the other students especially those who are struggling academically, and since theories involving L2 acquisition shows that having a solid foundation on L1 does not hinder any academic performance rather than it supports and enhances the students understanding of concepts since the language used is their home language, the language that they have been familiar since birth, the language that they have learned to make meaning on this outside their academic world. The successful practice of this learning initiative would bring about better comprehending students, better learners, enhancement of higher order thinking skills, life skills and whole rounded learners. It would also promote unity in different localities in the same region, unity in schools and not having that glaring difference on status basing on the language spoken, unity in public and private school sectors, unity and uniformity in concepts taught.
And as a teacher, I am moved to respond to this learning initiative by furthering and widening my skills and knowledge on my mother tongue since I personally am not confident to teach my mother tongue, since I grew up in an English speaking environment and in a family that used English in almost always at home. I am challenged to relearn my mother tongue and to have full command of my local language, and since the country is already adapting to MTB- MLE it is my responsibility as a future teacher to make into reality the aims and features of this learning initiative, making the learning experience personal to my future students and learners even if there are more than 30 students in a class, it is my responsibility to make sure that my future students would confidently be able to make sense and meaning to what I am conveying and saying with regards to teaching concepts, and also carry with it the encouragement for unity, uniformity and decrease the fear of being different in terms of understanding the language. Since this learning initiative is fairly a new concept to some, it is also my responsibility to share the beauty and its advantages, in the whole educational experience of a learner, it is my responsibility to make it known to others of the weight of such learning initiative in the enhancement and development of whole rounded learners and life- long learners.
Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda (BESRA), 2010. BESRA Key Reform Thrust 3: Influential social institutions and key social processes are engaged by DepED to support national scale attainment of desired learning outcomes.
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