PSYCOLOGIST SAYS English no sign of being educated

Philippine Daily Inquirer First Posted 04:46:00 01/16/2009 Filed Under: Language, Education, Legislation MANILA, Philippines—The notion that being fluent in English is a sign of being educated is wrongheaded, according to a De la Salle University professor opposed to a House bill seeking to enforce the use and teaching of English to improve English-speaking proficiency in the country. “There is no sound basis for that. It is somewhat naïve to think that if you teach using English to students, students will automatically be more fluent,” said Dr. Allan Bernardo, a professor of cognitive psychology. “Education goes beyond being able to speak a foreign language well. We need to correct that notion,” he said in a lecture at the University of the Philippines in which he critiqued two House bills that approach the issue of language instruction for the primary grades differently. House Bill 5619, authored by Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas, seeks to strengthen and enhance the use of English as a medium of instruction in schools, particularly in elementary and high school. Gullas was unable to attend the first part of the forum and another professor, Neil Zatoquia, outlined the salient points of his bill. Under the Gullas bill, English and Filipino will be taught as separate subjects in elementary and high school. “In addition to formal instruction, the use of English shall be encouraged as a language of interaction in the school. Corollary to this, the organization of English clubs such as book, oratorical, debating, writing and related associations shall be encouraged. In school publications, the use of English shall be given priority as far as practicable,” the bill reads. Valenzuela Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo, who is pushing a multi-lingual approach, commented that it was also important to increase the functional literacy of students and not only how well they speak English. In House Bill 3719, Gunigundo proposes a multi-lingual education policy program in Filipino schools, using both English and Filipino as the language of instruction. Julie M. Aurelio

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