Divergence of Language as a Barrier to Nationwide Competency
After experiencing a brief period of independence from foreign rule, the country went under a 20-year dictatorship under then-President Marcos. As the Philippines struggled as a third world developing country, the educational system stagnated since it was given less focus and attention.
Although Tagalog is being taught as part of the curriculum, the public school teachers throughout the nation resorted to the use of their region’s vernacular as a means to teach basic reading, writing and mathematical skills.
It was only after the restoration of the democratic form of government that the significance of communication in the Philippines was thoroughly reviewed in order to pave the way for a better educational system. This became of critical importance, inasmuch as the educational institutions were producing high school and college graduates that fell short in terms of competencies in science, technology and English proficiency.
In 2004, the Tagalog dialect was renamed as Filipino; hence, the latter was established as the official name of the Philippine national language. The objective was to associate the Tagalog syntax and grammar with the Filipino identity and nationality, which was in line with the country’s aim to gain international recognition.
Thereafter, a student of Ateneo de Manila University named Martin Gomez, presented and registered the Filipino national language with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) registry of languages. On September 21, 2004, Filipino was added to the said registry under the ISO 639-2 code fil. .
In 2006, the 13th Congress passed House Bill No. 4701, which reads as follows:
- English, Filipino or the regional/native language may be used as the MOI (method of instruction) in all subjects from preschool until Grade II
- English and Filipino shall be taught as separate subjects in all levels in the elementary and secondary
- In all academic subjects in the elementary grades from Grade III to Grade VI and in all levels in the secondary, the MOI shall be in English
Learning English as a second medium for communication became a matter of considerable importance, in view of the following:
(1) Advancements in science and computer technology are imparted through and supported by materials written in English.
(2) In order to cope with the globalization trend, the country needs to increase the national competency level in science and technology, which requires interacting with multi-cultural units and in accordance with international rules.
(3) Increased competition coming from neighboring Asian countries has scaled down the Filipino workers’ opportunities for overseas employment.
(4) Increasing demand for outsourced workers via business process outsourcing units and the Internet’s online facilities.