THE LINGUISTIC SOCIETY OF THE PHILIPPINES (LSP) AND ITS STAND AGAINST HOUSE BILL NO. 6125, “AN ACT SUSPENDING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE USE OF MOTHER TONGUE AS THE MEDIUM OF INSTRUCTION FOR KINDERGARTEN TO GRADE 3”
The Linguistic Society of the Philippines (LSP), the premier fifty-year old recognized professional organization of linguists and language enthusiasts in the country, reaffirms the need to further hone the confidence and competence of young Filipino learners in all subject areas, including English. The Philippine educational system has to move forward following a roadmap framed by experts in linguistics and language education based on empirical grounding. Experiences of other multilingual countries all point to a fact that the mother tongue is the best language of learning, especially in the early grades. The mother tongue is the most effective bridge to and foundation for the learning of other languages like English.
Now that a new bill, i.e. House Bill No. 6125, which calls for the suspension of the implementation of mother tongue or first language as a medium of instruction from Kindergarten to Grade 3 is being proposed, LSP once again is making a stand against a proposition that disables the ethnolinguistic minority communities to take part in broader linguistic circles and a proposition incognizant of the advantages and benefits of RA 10533 otherwise known as the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013.
LSP firmly believes that young learners learn best when the mother tongue is used as a medium of instruction particularly in the early stage of basic education. A good number of studies done in other countries, e.g., Ramirez, Yuen and Ramey, 1991; Thomas and Collier, 1997 and in the Philippines, e.g., Walter and Dekker, 2011, all point to one thing: the use of the mother tongue as language of instruction benefitted the learners in various ways. LSP, therefore, believes that the problem is not MTB-MLE itself but how it is currently implemented in the country.
House Bill No. 6125 blames the lack of instructional materials and treats this as the fundamental basis for the suspension of MTB-MLE in the country. What we need, however, is a concerted effort and a political will to capacitate the concerned government sectors, particularly the Department of Education (DepEd), to work in collaboration with universities, professional organizations, book companies, and non-profit government organizations, in order to produce teaching and learning materials needed by both instructors and schoolchildren to effectively implement the use of the mother tongue or first language in basic education.
What we need at this point is a more potent mechanism to ensure that DepEd and its partner organizations and institutions will be able to produce adequate and effective teaching and learning materials very soon for MTB-MLE to properly work.
The Philippines has indeed learned from other multilingual nations, e.g., Papua New Guinea, Nepal, Bolivia, Guatemala, Zambia, Bangladesh and other developing countries, when MTB-MLE was promulgated. LSP hopes that the educational system in the country will continue to make informed decisions for the sake of the Filipino learners.