Are we losing our English proficiency?

 

By Rose de la Cruz

 

The commercialization of Taglish or Englog (combining English and Tagalog) in the most popular communications media (television, the internet and even newspapers) have led to the rapid decline in proficiency and grasp of many generations of Filipinos, who are beginning to think that the bastardized English words are “cute and the norm” of society.

 

As a result, Rep. Salvador Belaro Jr of 1-Ang Edukasyon partylist and assistant majority leader, now comments that the English proficiency/skills of Filipinos as “suffering from arthritis.” In a recent privilege speech at the lower house, he pushed for English as the official language of the country.

 

Thais are better

 

Comparing the results of the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) across ASEAN, Hopkins International Partners found that Thai high school students are more proficient in English than Filipino college graduates.

 

Hopkins International Partners said Filipinos are ranked only third or fourth among the ASEAN countries in terms of English proficiency and that the Philippines' proficiency is on the decline while others are on the rise.

 

In the two-year study of Hopkins International Partners, Filipino university graduates average a score of only 630, a far cry from the 850passable score required by BPO companies the world over. The study also noted that it is lower than the competency requirement for taxi drivers in the United Arab Emirates and lower than that of the high school graduates of Thailand and Vietnam.

 

Emphasis lacking

 

He said that at the heart of the problem is the Department of Education’s lack of proper emphasis for English in the instruction of our schoolchildren. Instead of allowing English to grow in conjunction with the teaching of Filipino, our national language, the resulting scenario was promoting Filipino in schools at the expense of English, when the ideal but also realizable scenario could be the mutual development of both English and Filipino as languages of instruction.

 

One practical twin solution to improve English proficiency in schools is to require, with training and testing costs shouldered by the government, all English teachers of public schools to be certified by the TESDA as English proficient.

 

In service training

 

The proficiency course would be in-service training for those who are already teaching. The incentive for undergoing the English proficiency training can be a two-step increase in salary plus service credits commensurate to the hours of training undergone. English teachers who would need to take the proficiency test again would undergo further intensive training (cost shouldered by the DepEd).

 

For those who are studying to become English teachers, the TESDA English proficiency training can be embedded into the baccalaureate program as one of the requirements for graduation.

 

By improving the English proficiency of our teachers, we strengthen the English competencies of our youth. It will help secure a better future for them

 

Mother tongue for ALS

 

For out of school youths who are returning to schooling via alternative learning systems, adapting to their mother tongue is one effective way to reconnect them to the education system, according to Iligan City Representative Frederick Siao. 

 

Siao said the decision of Education Secretary Leonor Briones to adjust the passing rate of the ALS accreditation and equivalency exams to 60 percent from 75 percent because of the tests given last November were more difficult for the out-of-school learners because of the use of English in the tests on Math and Science.

 

Siao lauded Briones for admitting the “unfairness” of the November exams. “The DepEd Secretary proved yet again her integrity and courage as an educator when she admitted, on behalf of the DepEd, that the test given last November was “impaired” in terms of fairness.

 

He asked Briones to direct the DepEd personnel under her to have the Math and Science tests in Filipino and Cebuano and other major mother tongues or languages of the Philippines, so that the examinees can understand the questions and respond accordingly.

 

Siao said the DepEd can enlist the technical support of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino and the Surian ng Wikang Filipino for this undertaking.

 

“If the DepEd needs a higher allocation for this specific purpose, I will support that budget request when the DepEd budget is heard in Congress at committee and in plenary, “ Siao said. #

 

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