Thursday, September 6, 2007

Pimentel Proposes Not Just One or Two, But Ten Media of Instruction!

The Office of Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) has distributed a Press Release ETHNIC LANGUAGES SHOULD BE USED IN SCHOOLS TO SAVE THEM FROM EXTINCTION.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today called on the government to save the ethnic languages of the Filipino nation from the danger of extinction by allowing them to be used as a medium of instruction in elementary schools in the respective regions where they are widely spoken.

Pimentel expressed alarm that the ethnic languages are dying except Tagalog which has been mandated by law and by the Constitution as the basis of the country's national language.

"Many of us who were not born in Tagalog-speaking areas believe that unless we take pains to protect our own indigenous languages, they would eventually disappear completely from our consciousness and from use in our verbal and written communications," the senator from Misamis Oriental said in a privilege speech at the Senate.
CAVEAT: Ironically, Senator Pimentel's privilege speech was written and delivered in the English language, not in Tagalog, Pampango, Cebuano, Ilokano, Agta-Aeta or any of the other 171 living and 4 extinct recognized languages in the Philippine Archipelago, just like the Press Release proclaiming the pious desire prevent the extinction of these tongues by having the Dept. of Education use those languages as media of instruction! So it seems to be okay for the Senate to use English for its "verbal and written communications," but now we should pass laws and make Deped teach its curriculum of Math, Science, English, Filipino and Makabayan in "our own indigenous languages." Hmmm...Maybe Nene should talk the talk.
He made it clear that he is in favor of having a national language because Filipinos need it so that they do not speak the language of foreigners (English) to communicate with one another.
CAVEAT: Well, who are those bad, bad Filipinos who insist on speaking the language of foreigners (English)? I guess Nene is referring to the darn Supreme Court, which for a century has issued virtually every decision, resolution and ruling in a foreign language (0.001% Spanish and 99.999% English); and to the treasonous Congress which has done the same and still does, including Senators: write, debate and promulgate laws, resolutions, orders in English; and of course every single Constitution after Malolos was written in English, so the Founding Fathers are also evidently responsible for the extinction from non-use of "our own indigenous languages."
However, he held the view that forcing the language of one ethnic group upon other ethnic groups is "divisive and disruptive of the national fabric.".... The minority leader mentioned several major languages of the Filipino people that should be preserved:

1. Iloko in the Ilocos and in adjoining provinces, 2. Pangalatok in Pangasinan, 3. Kapampangan in Pampanga, 4. Tagalog in Manila and in Southern Luzon provinces, 5. Bikolano in Bicol region, 6. Hiligaynon in Panay and Negros islands, 7. Binisaya in Cebu, Bohol and many parts of Mindanao, 8. Waray in Samar and Leyte, 9. and the languages of the Maranaos in the Lanao provinces, the Maguindanao in Cotabato and adjoining provinces and Tausug in Sulu and nearby areas.

CAVEAT: Ah, but didn't Nene just say it would be "divisive and disruptive of the national fabric" forcing one ethnic group's language on another? Well what makes him think that forcing eight languages out of extinction by forcing the Deped to use them in books, tests and classroom teaching of the curricular subjects would be any less divisive and disruptive? For one thing there are many more than nine languages in use in the country, in fact 175 that are enumerated here, the overwhelming majority of which are not on his "endangered languages" list for saving. As for the Deped itself, they will only chuckle at the Tower of Babel Nene Pimentel is here, insanely, urging, as follows...
He proposed two courses of action to arrest the deterioration of the vernacular languages - 1. a change in the school curriculum to allow the use of dominant languages in various regions as medium of instruction from grades 1 to 6; and 2. the adoption of a federal system in which 10 federal states will be created based mainly on linguistic preferences of the citizens.

Pimentel said the first proposal makes sense because concepts would be more easily understandable to grade schoolers if states in the language of their homes.

He said he is not aware that this change in the medium of instruction needs legislation to implement it.

"All it probably needs is a policy adopted by the Department of Education that may immediately be implemented for the entire six grades or staggered over a few years as may be necessary in accordance with the decision of our education officials in the DepEd," he said.

But if a law is necessary, Pimentel said he believes that enough support from the lawmakers can be easily mobilized to implement the proposal.

"Now is the time to make the first move to revise the curriculum of our educational system so that we can allow the use of the local languages as the medium of instruction in our grade schools. Our other major languages are dying. We have to save them now."
CAVEAT: Senator Pimentel thinks that the medium of instruction is just the language the teacher uses to communicate with students. He doesn't realize that much more is involved than that. A medium of instruction must be not only universally comprehensible or at least accessible to the students, it must also be a WRITTEN language so that textbooks, tests, homework and other educational activities other than listening and having knowledge poured into your ears can be undertaken. That means we need experts and authorities to tell us whether the material taught is correctly rendered and does not miseducate the students, these experts having to be adept in the medium of instruction AND the material content of the curricular subjects. The Minority Leader does not understand that the Medium of Instruction is much more than the sounds emitted by the spoken tongue, but the sense of things they must convey. The Medium must be able to deliver the Message which are reading writing and 'rithmetic, and the Deped has to be able to deliver an integrated 10 year package of such knowledge.

It is utterly naive to think that just because a young student understands his home language better than any other, that therefore that language should be the Medium of Instruction from Grades One to Six. I might agree for the first six days of school, but after that, we must choose the best medium of instruction we can find. The criteria are simple:

(1) widely comprehensible by the students; (2) comprehensive written and spoken forms; (3) widely supported by existing linguistic and content experts; (4) consistent with the social, economic and political realities for which the students are being prepared.

There are many linguistic, legal, practical and pedagogical reasons why most of the 160 languages we are talking about do not qualify. In most cases it is because there are no written forms of these languages that are not inventions of one or two experts, and no authorities to decide what is right or wrong, because these languages have never been applied to so weighty a task as public education. They are boutique subjects for language doctoral ethnic studies courses.

The choice has always boiled down to English or Tagalog...and I think both Nene and I express our strongest preference by example.

One thing for sure though you cannot use the Medium of Instruction for the purpose Nene piously proposes--no matter how eloquent and perfervid is his English.


President Quezon and King Canute's Lesson


Jego said...

But DJB, Belgium does that. Youre in a Flemish area, you get taught mainly in Dutch, in a French area, you use French, in a German area, you use German. And you get to learn all the other official languages PLUS English. They dont have 10, but same point. And theyre doing quite well, I gather.

But Im with you on legislating language of instruction, if this is indeed where he's heading. Let the teacher choose the most effective language. Teacher doesnt need help from the good senator.

DJB Rizalist said...

I don't know about Belgium, but I know it isn't practical with our languages for a reason we may not like, but here it is...

Hiligaynon is not Dutch, Agta Aeta is not English, Ilokano is not French, Sugbuanon is not German.

They are NOT written languages. You cannot teach arithmetic without language and symbols, therefore they simply do not qualify as medium of instruction. This applies to most other subjects in our public schools.

The Message must be deliverable in the chosen medium.

Of course you could invent writing for these or use a mixture, but where are the experts in these dialects, who are also experts in the subjects.

Jego, I am not against however, the use of the pork barrel to fund literary contests in these tongues, declamation contests, even magazines and tv shows.

But we are talking about something very complex and very impt when we say medium of instruction, curriculum and teaching for 20 million students.

It's just not something we can be dilettantish about.

DJB Rizalist said...

hehe come to think of it that is exactly what pimentel's proposal is equivalent to:

that we teach our students in French, Dutch, German, Polish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and Esperanto!

blackshama said...

Many of the Philippine languages have no long literary history. Tagalog is the only one with a decent literary history. It made sense for President Manuel Quezon to decree that Tagalog be the basis of the National Language. Quezon could have easily imposed his Kastila if he really wanted to.

Now what we can really revisit is whether as Agoncillo writes that Filipino is equivalent to Esperanto as an artificial language or Pilipino which is the child of Quezon's language experiment and has sufficiently developed even more than its parent language.

Pimentel Jr should look into the mess the European Union is now. There are 20 or is 22? EU nations. Each nation is entitled to have its language as an official EU language. Now why should a Frenchman or an Englishman get translations of EU documents that deal with business regulations in Latvian? In Latvia more people speak Russian and that language is not even in the EU list! If the EU wants a common language, it should revive Latin!

As for Belgium, that country just had a constitutional crisis as a new government couldn't be formed with a hung parliament. The King of the Belgians had to cut his summer holidays short and interfere (something that is a last resort in a constitutional monarchy). Guess what was the reason why there was a crisis? The country's body politic split along LINGUISTIC lines. There were calls for a divorce ala Czechoslovakia and the EU bureaucrats in Brussels had shivers up their spines! If this were the Balkan it wouldn't surprise us but one of the BENELUX countries? The spectre of narrow nationalism hasn't been exorcised out of the EU!

Belgium isn't doing well at all. The Flemish get taught in Flemish, the Francophones in French and the Dutch speakers in Dutch. This is just as bad as Quebec, Canada, where Anglophones are forced to be taught in French.

Amadeo said...

You raise very valid points, Dean.

And since Nene and his family comes from our same old hometown, let me raise this confusing concern.

When Koko first ran as the city's mayor and then lately as Senator, a number of my acquaintances/relatives commented about the difficulty of Koko to speak binisaya, especially in his campaign speeches. The same dialect his family grew up with.

But I would counter that the same difficulty could be found in my generation, too, because we were educated with English as the medium of instruction.

But in both cases, I am claiming that this has not resulted in too much liability on our part in trying to communicate with the general populace.

What else can we make of this? Aside from the fact that the general populace has accepted that English is the language of choice in communicating with large audiences.

Amadeo said...

Sorry, subject-verb agreement error. Should be . . Nene and his family COME. . .

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

Sa 1987 Constitution ta Dean, igwang probisyon sa paggamit kan regional languages bilang auxiliary medium of instruction. Beinteng taon na an nakaagi, dai pa man giraray iyan ikinakaimplementar.

An sako sana praktikal na rason: makanood magbasa an aki. Asin may mga pag-adal na nagpapaheling na mas madaling magbasa an aki kun siya magpoon sa lenguaheng kinagimatan.

Kaya dai ako komporme ki Senador Pimentel na gamiton an lenguahe rehiyonal poon Grade I hasta Grade VI. Grade III siguro puede na ta an dapat manudan pagbasa, pagsurat asin pagbilang. An Bikol sa pagtubod ko igwang kakayahan na ipasabot an apat na fundamental operations sa mathematics.

Pero su dai kayang itokdo, siempre English pa man giraray ta mayo man mapagpipilian.

Pero oyon ako saimo na kaipuhan tawan panahon an pagpreparar nin instructional materials sa nasambit na mga lenguahe bago ini ikatokdo. An pagtubod ko, puedeng gamiton an pork barrel nganing magibo ini.

DJB Rizalist said...

I want to propose a radical idea. English is just the latest of the foreign languages to arrive on these shores. To the Aeta aborignes, every other language that has arrived is a foreign language, including those that most of us now consider indigenous. What makes a language indigenous though, is our observation that a subset of Filipinos considers that language their mother tongue and ascribe it as such.

Successive waves of immigration are what populated the archipelago over the centuries. Each wave brought with it some new language which had to be considered "foreign" by those that came before. But in time, even these new foreign languages resided in the people that arrived and among those they interacted with, conquered, married, lived with, etc. In time each of these new foreign languages became "indigenous."

I know for sure that the Law, whether as originated by Congress or as ruled upon by the Supreme Court,is indubitably an English institution. English has become the native language of our legal, political, juridical, educational and intellectual discourse.

The idea that it is a foreign language is an illusion of its newness of arrival. Yet in terms of the quantity, quality and cruciality of its role in our present and future society, no other language even comes close.

Also there are perhaps a million Filipino American dual citizens who probably consider English to be their native tongue.

I guess the theme emerging in my mind is that in the future that we can foresee, English is already a native tongue and in the far, far future it will be considered "indigenous"!

Language is not a thing we can compartmentalize very effectively either. I believe whatever is relevant or useful in a given language will survive somehow even if the language itself dies.

Why for example would we try to revive Greek and Latin when they survive perfectly well in all the Western tongue as root words and concepts?

I think this is in fact the most impt aspect of the debate: what we consider to be "foreign" and why!

Tiki said...

Pimentel's point is logical if these languages are "widely spoken" in their respective regions although if that is the case then they should not be considered as "dying."

The claim that these languages are not written is false because some of the ones listed in the article are written languages. Also, arithmetic can be taught using several of the languages listed.

Finally, the argument follows the correct way to teach two languages: use the student's primary language for the first few years of schooling and a second language during the latter half of that schooling.

DJB Rizalist said...

Naiintindihan ko ang diwa ng sinasabi mo, kahit na hindi ako biyasa sa Bisaya. (a lil Pampango mixed in there with my Tagalog). Nakakabahala nga yaring bagay, masalimuot at magulo ang pagiisip nating lahat kung ano ang tamang gawin. Ngunit alam ko na tayong lahat rito ay may isang hangarin: na isulong ang bansang Pilipino at lalo na ang kabataang siyang haligi ng buong hinaharap nating lahat. Salamat. Yamaman ang aking pananalita.

DJB Rizalist said...

The argument that because you CAN do arithmetic in any given language is simply no reason to do it by making it the medium of instruction. Lookit, we can do arithmetic with Roman Numerals, but that is no reason for the Italians to give up on the Arabic number system, which is SUPERIOR in every respect for that purpose, though not as pretty as for use in Rolex watches.

No doubt we could manage the same in any of the dialects, if we tried hard enough, but this only works as an academic exercise. It is simply impractical and pedagogically unsound.

See, most people think medium of instruction is just the sound made by the teacher. That's wrong! But I am not against the teachers using any song or dance that works for communication. Even if those dialects are not the medium of instruction teachers are allowed to use them for as long as they are useful. That is the meaning of "auxiliary language(s) of instruction."

Jego said...

DJB: They are NOT written languages.

How about Tagalog? Tagalog has a tradition of written literature and it's highly adaptable. That is, like English, it can assimilate and create new words from foreign ones. Youre not averse to using Tagalog as medium of instruction?

DJB Rizalist said...

Tagalog is a written language, like Pampango, and a few others. But not most of the ones that Pimentel mentions as far as I know. Actually however, it is possible to write all languages in some kind of Romanized form (where we spell words according to their sound), but you see the ALPHABET that would be implied would not really be "indigenous" to that dialect or language.

Actually all of them are missing the arithmetic and mathematical symbols and vocabulary, but that could be invented too, which I think some people want.

However such an effort would be very difficult and artificial.

Tagalog is necessary as a medium of instruction to teach the subject called "Filipino"

Jego said...

Among others.

History, literature, social sciences, philosophy...

It may be cumbersome for the sciences and math but doable.. Math symbols arent really a spoken language either. We can use english for them.

"One hundred dibay-bibay two equals fifty."

irvinstotomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
irvinstotomas said...

Auxillary = katulong, ng amo = Filipino at English?

Ilang taon na bang dinedevelop ang Filipino? Kelan ba ito magiging ganap na develop? May taymfreym ba ito o forlayf? Posible kaya itong madevelop? Hanggang kelan?

Malibog an nakasurat sa Konstitusyon.

Hindi maiiwasan ang extinction, at least, iseyv ang mga pangunahing wika sa Filipinas.

Konsepto ang mas mahalagang maituro, sa Math atbp.

"Sanggatos, bangâon sa dua, tig singkwenta."

DJB Rizalist said...

welcome irvinstotomas,
kawawa naman ang mga bata. kailangan nila trabaho. Kung walang alam walang trabaho. ang problema kailangan natin ang wikang Ingles o Tagalog sa karamihan ng trabahong gusto naman natin. Lalo na mga OFW, Ingles ang susi sa kanilang tagumpay.

Ngunit nababalot sa amor propio ng bawat may "sariling wika" ang usapin. ngunit ang pangangailangan ng Deped ay praktikal.

Wala na tayong magagawa sa nakaraan. Naging Ingles pati ang budhi ng Batas.

irvinstotomas said...

↑ child labor
↑ unemployment

??? lol

DJB Rizalist said...

you mean, let's use Sign Language?

domingo said...


Senator Pimentel has nothing to worry about.

For, inexplicably, Las Islas Filipinas was perhaps the only colony of the Spanish Crown that was never hispanized (hispanicized?) during the close to four centuries of Spanish rule.

However, during that same period, aboriginals in the Spanish colonies of Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador and several other South American countries were transformed into Hispanics; most of them now speak Spanish or consider Spanish as their official language.

Filipinos, on the contrary, fiercely retained their Cebuano, Tagalog, Ilocano, Hiligaynon and other ethnic dialects in their regions.

So, Ne, "calma lang, bay"! These Philippine "languages" are here to stay.

DJB Rizalist said...

Hi Dom,
How strange! I just posted a comment on your blog about this not two minutes ago when I noticed your entry here.

I've no doubt these languages are more durable than Senator Pimentel believes they are. Indeed it was he who claims that they are going extinct, but I think his fears are totally groundless.

Now that is also why the real point of my opposition is his plan to use the Deped Curriculum and "medium of instruction" to "save them from extinction".

He would only succeed in pushing the education system itself into extinction if we seriously did what he wants.

But I think he doesn't really understand "what" the medium of instruction is, and only wants the Deped to use local languages more, incorporate more of them into the overall system.

The latter would be harmless enough, but we cannot afford to fall into a sentimentalism about it because the education system is critical to national progress. It cannot be used for objectives it cannot achieve.

Pinoy Records said...

Related article:

DJB Rizalist said...

Welcome to Philippine Commentary "pinoy records".

Thanks for the link to that article. I wish I could share with you a similar story, but I can't seem to find the link to it, about a research group that worked with the Aetas and showed that they could teach arithmetic in the Agta language, and that at the very youngest ages, this actually seemed to be quite effective, certainly better than dunking them right into the middle of English language.

I think however, that all this proves is the human animal is quite resilient when it comes to things like human languages and culture in general and can survive in virtually any human context that is not threatening or hostile to them.

However, we are not talking here of educating a half dozen Aeta children or the kids of middle America in a specialized school with lots of resources and parents willing to "commit" their kids to such an experiment. How can such experiments fail when they are based on widely accepted pedagogical fact: young children will learn anything they are immersed in.

But the amount of effort is gargantuan and nonlinear with respect to the number of students and number of languages sought to be used as "medium of instruction" when you are talking of 20 million kids in a public school system that encompasses 42000 barangays!

Note that in the Bloomington experiment in bilingualism (english and spanish) that you pointed to, all the teachers are bilingual and possibly expert at the subjects they taught, which was basically language instruction. And they were determined to make it work.

The difference here is we don't have any decalingual experts and our teachers' bilingual capabilities are suspect as it is. This is da Pilipins, remember, and not Bloomington, Indiana.

Spanish and english have become impt because of demographic trends in the US, and multilingualism is always a strong need in a country into which hundreds of nationalities immigrate.

I think our own languages are dying a long natural death because we happen to be EMIGRATING out of the Philippines, or at least out of our "ancestral lands." We will need "foreign languages" more than our own native languages at least for the foreseeable future.

There is no way to resuscitate "dying" languages by force feeding them on people who won't have much use for them in their own real lives.

Tiki said...

Teaching math using a Philippine language might not involve not using the Arabic number system, unless you are claiming that most Philippine languages don't use that system.

Also, you don't need experts to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic.

DJB Rizalist said...

The Basic Education Curriculum which we may think of as "the Message" that must be delivered via some "Medium of Instruction" consists of FIVE subjects: English, Filipino, Mathematics, Science, and Makabayan.

I think I know what you mean by "we don't need experts to teach" the 3Rs, because it is true, a good teacher need not be an "expert".

But please understand, Tiki, that the "Medium of Instruction" is also the language in which textbooks must be written, homework assigned, tests taken, etc.

But we don't have the "experts" who can write textbooks in those Philippine languages in which there is not much "practice" and "usage" and therefore we wouldn't know what the correct way to explain stuff like biology and chemistry and trigonometry and algebra and history and technology, and such subjects in some arbitrary native tongue.

Someone could maybe make it up in any of those languages, you might argue, but that would be folly.

So yeah, sorry, we DO need experts in the chosen Medium of Instruction for more than the "raw teaching chores" that you imagine does not need experts. They do.