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React on the use of Mother Tongue in teaching lessons for Grades 1 and 2

The mother tongue plays a very important part in a child's identity and self-esteem. The
mother tongue provides the basis for the child's ability to learn. The child finds it easier to learn
their second language and other school subjects. It is of considerable advantage to society if
many people are multilingual.
Many Filipino learners face barriers in education. One of these barriers is that our
learners often begin their education in a language they do not understand. Because they do not
understand the language of education, many learners become discouraged and tend to drop-out
from school. Content of material is often culturally distant or unfamiliar to the learners. The
limited education that learners receive does not prepare them for lifelong learning.
Mother tongue-based multilingual education (MLE) is a formal or non-formal education,
in which the childrens mother tongue is used in the classroom as a bridge in learning Filipino
and English. Children begin their education in a language they understand, their mother tongue,
and develop a strong foundation in their mother language.
The purpose of a multilingual education program is to develop appropriate cognitive and
reasoning skills enabling children to operate equally in different languages starting in the
mother tongue with transition to Filipino and then English. It is a structured program of language
learning and cognitive development which provides learners with a strong educational
foundation in the first language.
If the mother tongue is not used, we create people who are illiterate in two languages.
Children do not become sufficiently fluent in their mother tongue (L1) in both oral and literacy if
their vocabulary in L1 is limited, thus restricting their ability to learn a second language (L2). A
strong foundation in L1 is required for learning L2. Childrens understanding of concepts is
limited or confused if learning is only L2.
In the Philippines, a longitudinal study was conducted with grade one through three
students in Lubuagan. The mother tongue pilot project began in one school in 1999, and the
study was formally launched in 2005 with three schools in the experimental group and three in
the control group. The Lubuagan First Language Component (FLC) multilingual education
(MLE) pilot project was initiated through a partnership of educators from the Lubuagan
community, the local government, the Department of Education (DepEd), and the Summer
Institute of Linguistics, Inc. (SIL) International Philippines. The FLC program promoted the use
of the childrens first language in their basic education experience, complementing the ongoing
education in Filipino and English, the two major languages of education as mandated by the
countrys Bilingual Education Policy (BEP). Children in the first to third grades of Lubuagan
public schools were taught the subject matter in their first language, Lilubuagan, and were then
taught to handle the same subject matter using the two major languages. After three years of the
study, consistent advantages were noted for the children in the mother tongue schools. They
scored significantly higher than students in the schools in math, reading, Filipino, and English.

The results were striking. Teachers observed high levels of participation among the
students, and the teachers themselves began to use the first language orally to foster a more
dynamic learning environment. In the 2006 National Achievement Tests for Third Grade
Reading, Lubuagan students outperformed all other schools in the province by up to 30 percent
for both Filipino and English. In 2007, first to third grade students from Lubuagan consistently
outperformed the other schools in all subjects, including Math, Filipino, and English, by over 20
percent.
Feedback gathered from the pilot implementers revealed that teachers find the use of the
MTB-MLE very useful. Pupils are very participative and most of them have learned to read by
this time. Although some teachers find it tiresome, especially in the preparation of materials, but
they feel rewarded by seeing the enjoyment among the pupils in their learning experiences.
Pupils increased understanding of classroom content is the biggest benefit of MTBMLE. In mother tongue the children can learn all the words and they can understand. Whereas in
English they can read, but sometimes they cannot understand. That is the benefit of mother
tonguethat they can understand because the Mother Tongue is the language that kids use at
home, they can easily understand what the teacher says.
As mandated by DepED, the Mother Tongue shall be used as a medium of instruction and
as a subject from Grades 1 to 3. The early graders should be taught in all subjects in their Mother
Tongue first because one does not learn in a language that he does not understand. When a
beginning learner thinks, he uses the language that he grew up with.
All the Grade 1 and 2 subjects are taught in the Mother Tongue, except Filipino and English, for
better understanding of the pupils. My Belief is that all children can learn to read with
understanding within the first few years of schooling in a language that they use and in a
language that they understand. And this is one reason why children should listen, speak, read and
write first in a language that they use and they understand. . . their Mother Tongue.
The use of ones Mother Tongue is an expression of ones culture. It aims to develop
among the young learners an awareness and appreciation of their own culture. In school, there
should be a smooth transition from a childs home language to learning a second language and
learning using the second language as a medium. On developing the attitude towards literacy,
children who have positive attitudes and experiences about reading are more likely to be
motivated to learn to read.
Brain development research shows that reading aloud to children every day increases
their brain's capacity for language and literacy skills and is the most important thing that one can
do to prepare them for learning to read. Literacy development depends on the development of
oral language which refers to ones knowledge and use of the structure, meanings and uses of the
language. One cannot be successful in learning to read (and write) in a language he does not
know.

Once students have established a literate base in one language, they should be able to
transfer knowledge and skills gained in that language to reading in a second language as long as
they are adequately exposed to the second language and motivated to acquire it.
By the time children begin school, they have begun gaining confidence in their ability to
communicate meaningfully in their mother tongue. They have built a foundation of knowledge
and experience through observing and interacting with peers and adults in their community. The
language, knowledge and experience that children bring to school form an important foundation
for their learning in the classroom. The educational problem faced by many children from ethno
linguistic communities is twofold. In the first place, some have no access to education at all.
Those who do have access to school but do not speak the official language when they enter the
education system find that their knowledge, experience and languagerather than serving as a
foundation for learningare treated as a disadvantage. Their language skills do not serve them
because their language has no place in the classroom. Instead, textbooks and teaching are in a
language they neither speak nor understand. Their learning and problem-solving experiences and
their knowledge of how things work in their own culture and social setting do not serve them
because the culture of the classroom, the teachers, and the textbooks is that of the dominant
society.
The most powerful factor in predicting educational success for minority learners is the
amount of formal schooling their received in their L1. Only those language minority students
who had 5-6 years of strong cognitive and academic development in their L1as well as
through [L2]did well in Grade 11 assessments.
Children should be helped to build up oral skills in the second language before reading
instruction in that language is started. Minority childrens knowledge of L2 vocabulary
determines their comprehension of oral text much more than mother tongue L2 speakers.
When children continue to develop their abilities in two or more languages throughout
their primary school years, they gain a deeper understanding of language and how to use it
effectively. They have more practice in processing language, especially when they develop
literacy in both, and they are able to compare and contrast the ways in which their two languages
organize reality
The children who go to the primary schools are often teased by other students for using
their MT in the classroom when they talk to their counterparts. Teachers advise them to use L2
instead of their MT. Parents are asked not to use MT at home in order to make the children fluent
in the L2. All these things have led to a negative attitude towards their language in the minds of
the parents and children. Children whose first language is not used at school experience
lower levels of learning and are much less likely to be able to contribute to a countrys economic
and intellectual development.
Despite the wide beliefs that MTB-MLE leads to increased understanding among
students, there are some similar concern about the disadvantages of the policy. Teachers
described the large number of languages in the Philippines as a challenge to implementing a
mother tongue reform. Our society is multilingual, and we feel it is impossible, even in grade

one, to avoid the integration of several languages in a single lesson. Some teachers further
problematized the notion of mother tongue. The problem is that we have so many dialects thus
teaching in the mother tongue is a challenge when there was no true mother tongue in the
classroom. To address the multitude of dialects in one community, why can't we use the national
language as the common medium of instruction in a community.
Similarly, teachers appeared to struggle with the practical application of the mother
tongue as the language of instruction. According to DepEd policy, teachers must incorporate
each students mother tongue into the curriculum. They explained that if a childs L1 differs
from the mother tongue used in the classroom that the teacher must adapt the lessons to include
that dialect or language. Teachers expressed this as a challenge for three reasons. First, they
would need to invest additional time in learning the nuances of a new language variety. Second,
it would create a disjointed lesson. Third, they questioned the parameters around different
languages because the varieties spoken between municipalities are so fluid.
The most commonly encountered challenge for implementing MTB-MLE was the lack of
materials available to teachers in the classroom. Teachers learned that they would be
implementing MTB-MLE only one week prior to the start of the school year. They did not
receive government materials right away; rather during the second week of school they were
provided with curriculum guides that listed core competencies. Later, school heads were
provided with learning packages that included some lessons and student worksheets, but these
materials had to be reproduced at the cost of the teachers. Teachers claimed that their teaching
had suffered from these limited materials.
The multilingual environment presented a challenge because it added complexity to the
teaching context. Teachers were unsure how to teach something in only Kalinga or Ilokano when
their everyday life was a blend of multiple languages. In addition, it seemed difficult to define
one true mother tongue for a single classroom given the differences between families home
languages. Second, academic language was presented as a challenge due to the large number of
technical terminology that could not be easily translated into the dialect. This primarily included
math and science terms. Teachers did not know which terminology to use in class because they
have traditionally borrowed words from English to name concepts. Parents also struggled to keep
up with the higher-level dialect terms and could not always help their children with homework as
a result. Third, a lack of materials presented a challenge to implementation. Teachers were
expected to pay for photocopying of the few materials provided, and they also spent many extra
hours a week creating their own lesson aids. Parents described this challenge in relation to a lack
of materials available for their home use. Since most materials are published in Filipino or
English, it is nearly impossible to find materials in the local language.

A Completion Paper
in
Master of Education
Kalinga Apayao State College

Submitted to:
Paulino P. Reyes II, Ph. D.
Instructor

Submitted by:
James Rhyan G. Balawan