Improving English Proficiency

On its initiative to further improve English instruction among public schools, DepEd’s press release reads:

Recognizing the importance of English proficiency as an important building block in learning, the Department of Education has placed it as one of its priority programs for 2008 focusing on schools with low mastery level in the 2007 National Achievement Test (NAT). [1]

Erosion of English skills [2] among Filipinos has drawn attention among the government policy makers and even stakeholders of industries that are directly affected by it like the Information Technology (IT) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industries. In Congress, Rep. Eduardo R. Gullas filed House Bill 305 (Proposed Act to Strengthen and Enhance the Use of English as the Medium of Instruction in Philippine Schools) that revives English as the mandatory language for teaching in all school levels.

It seems that I do not need to see research data to affirm that English skills among students deteriorate. I can partially conclude that based on experience. In writing classes for example, it pained me to check the students’ output. Since they were college students, they were expected to write correct sentences but I contrary to my expectation level, there was still a need to go back to basics.

The worst was in speech classes. It was common to hear student saying “raid” as he read “red”. Most of the students say “mum” instead of “ma’am”. Many teachers corrected mispronunciation but many teachers also mispronounced words. What a mess!

This problem is deeply rooted in our education system. It boils down to classroom shortage, inadequate instructional materials, and undesirable class size. Teachers’ proficiency must also be assessed. No teachers are inefficient nor not proficient to teach the language but it must be stressed that teachers also need to refresh and enhance skills.

There are numerous seminars that aim to upgrade teacher’s skills but are not gaining momentum yet. One of the best way to upgrade one’s skill is graduate studies. However, CHED need to carefully evaluate schools that offer graduate studies in English as some of those schools just simply add the problem instead of helping.

I believe the government is taking good actions in improving the quality of education. DepEd is conducting the Test of English Proficiency for Teachers (TEPT) which will “specifically measure teachers’ aptitude on the structure of the English language, reading comprehension, written expression and grammar.” [3] The result of the test will guide our policy makers to execute viable programs.

It is also important that we look at our infrastructure to improve the quality of English instruction. How many public elementary and high school have audio-visual room and speech laboratories? How many of them have libraries? How many of them have teachers who are specialist in reading or literature?

Improving English proficiency cannot be done overnight nor just by a political leader. It calls participation among all sectors in the society. Everyone must do his part.
[1] DepEd English proficiency: DepEd’s flagship program in 2008 (January 15, 2008)
[2] third wave Erosion of English Skills
[3] DepEd DepEd Tests Teachers on English Proficiency (February 1, 2008)

JGG|Mandaue City
Blog I author (Bisaya): Ambot Lang!|Contact: Send Mail

10 thoughts on “Improving English Proficiency

  1. @jp: yes, blogging help us to enhance our writing skills besides, it is the most convenient than writing on notebooks. I still love my “notebook” though.

  2. hi yes you are right bout that, but how could you ever make sure that together with some of the higher official they can help bout this problem.. have you try to think that also the studient are trying to escape from thier class and got to drop by at internet.. for some other reasons? the problem is the student… not the teacher..

    batang buotan says:
    Thank you.
    I am looking at different angle. It is the whole system the needs patch (Philippine Education System)

  3. yes i believe that it’s not always the teachers are to blame bout this problem of incompetence in English. Students also have lapses in their studies. its just a matter if interest.

  4. i agree, its not just the teachers who are to blame, students mostly are to blame with their attitude, being lazy and bumming around doing all that cutting class, just to play games or go to malls. then later on, they wanna study for they are lack of skills and poor english, me myself, beleive on that saying “sa huli ang pagsisisi”

  5. yes, you’re right….english proficiency is timportant because it building a block in learning outcomes

  6. one of the hindrances why english is deteriorating, because most of the Filipinos nowadays are not comfortable using the language, which lead them to avoid using english as a language, schools can provide training in english, but lack of practice can deter the fluency,in order to master any language we have to use to it, but unfortunately even in filipino homes english are frequently/seldom used, then if we want to upgrade or improve our english, it should go hand in hand,school for formal learning and the environment as the practice ground.Everyone then should share efforts.

  7. @Anna: Except from affluent homes, English is seldom used at home. Why should we use it when it is not our first language? I am referring to home. But even we don’t use English at home, we can still improve it. Education in our country deteriorates.. that’s why.

  8. As a student being proficient in English does not only mean you have an English proficient teacher, guys its a matter of self discipline, read anything around you even road signs will help you more proficient in English. Do not focus all the blame to our teachers because they are doing their part but we are the one leaving it all behind….go for english Proficient country philippines

  9. @ ERA ,Bukidnon speaking and learning English is vital in teaching especially up to this time most teachers teaching in lower grades seldom speak English since the pupils in urban areas never speak english at home as the second language apparently they speak in mother tongue but I believe its not to late to learn English in the school in their young age.

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