Forget your ‘English’

We can tolerate a girl who says “ip” instead of “if”; “fepol” instead of “people”. “Red” is easy to pronounce but should no be confused with “rid”. Fuchsia pink is difficult to spell.

“English is my favorite subject sir but it’s difficult”, says a 13-year old girl in an English remediation class. Another one added: “Mga brayt man mi sir pero ma-wrong ispeling man gyod”

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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

He is the cow

Note: A year ago, Juan L. Mercado wrote this in his Sun.Star Cebu column. I really enjoy the article. -JGG

Mercado: ‘He is the cow’
By Juan L. Mercado

(That’s the title of a true essay submitted during a civil service examination in India. “By the time you finish reading, you’ll have forgotten all the English you ever learned,” says the friend who sent it over. Enjoy –- Juan L. Mercado)

The cow is a successful animal. Also he is 4 footed, and because he is female, he give milks, [but will do so when he is got child.] He is same like-God, sacred to Hindus and useful to man.

“But he has got four legs together. Two are forward and two are afterwards. His whole body can be utilised for use. More so the milk. Milk comes from 4 taps attached to his basement. (Horses don’t have any such attachment.)

“What can it do? Various butter, cream, curd, ghee, the condensed milk and so forth. Also he is useful to cobbler, watermans and mankind generally.

“His motion is slow only because he is of lazy species, Also his other motion is much useful to trees, plants as well as making flat (manure—JLM) cakes, like pizza in hand and drying in the sun.

“Cow is the only animal that extricates his feeding after eating. Then afterwards she chew with his teeth whom are situated in the inside of the mouth. He is incessantly in the meadows in the grass.

“His only attacking and defending organ is the horns, specially so when he is got child. This is done by knowing his head whereby he causes the weapons to be paralleled to the ground of the earth and instantly proceed with great velocity forwards.

“He has got tails also, situated in the backyard, but not like similar animals. It has hairs on the other end of the other side.
This is done to frighten away the flies which alight on his cohesive body hereupon he gives hit with it.

“The palms of his feet are soft unto the touch. So the grasses head is not crushed. At night time have poses by looking down on the ground and he shouts. His eyes and nose are like his other relatives. This is the cow.”

(Footnote: We are informed that the candidate passed the exam, and is now in the government’s civil service, somewhere in Bihar.)

English Class with Miss Repulle

Perhaps my most influential high school English Teacher in Santa Maria Goretti College was Miss Rosario Repulle. I remember her as compassionate, and soft-spoken yet tough. She motivated us to be attentive by either not saying a word or by looking innocently at us, a technique which now I believe as most effective that time.

There were always something we look forward to in her class – something we enjoy, something to learn upon.

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English Rules!

“English Rules!” was the motto of the Department of Languages and Literature of Blancia Carreon College where I used to serve as instructor.The striking line emerged when the “Speak to me in English” campaign was launched, making the entire campus an English speaking zone. The campaign was inspired by the government’s, as well as the institution’s concern on the deterioration of the use of English language.

I personally believe the great advantages of graduates who are proficient in English. But of course, skills are on top.

After I left my teaching profession, I haven’t heard much about the program. However, I am sure that the program sustained.

As classes start, I always recall the good old days when I was serving as moulder of the young minds.

Jerry G. Gervacio|Mandaue City|Contact: Send Mail
Blog I author (Bisaya): Ambot Lang!