WITH MODESTO P. SA-ONOY
One significant aspect of the K to 12 Program of the Department of Education is the use of the child’s native language during the first three years of his schooling. In our case that is Hiligaynon.
It is believed that the use of the native tongue for toddlers and children hastens understanding of concepts and the absorption of knowledge compared to English, a second language or now considered a third language, because the emphasis is on Tagalog or euphemistically called Filipino, but fundamentally Tagalog.
There are opponents of this program, not the least of which is the use of the native language. Some felt that the non-Tagalog children will be disadvantaged because they have to study two national languages – Tagalog and Hiligaynon while those of the Tagalog region will not be burdened by another language.
English will also be introduced gradually, thus, the Visayan child will be studying three language to the Tagalog’s two.
In private school, the children will also have the advantage of getting English ahead of those in the public schools so that those in the public school will again be disadvantaged. One militant group claims the use of the native tongue in public school and English in private school is anti-poor.
Anyway that is just another opinion.
We have one problem with the use of Hiligaynon. What kind of alphabet shall we use and what are the rules of grammar to guide the formulation of sentences or the spelling of native words?
Let us take the case of tao, or should it be tawo to refer to man or person? Spoken, the difference is not so perceptible but written, which is the correct spelling? If spelled as tao, then the pronunciation will be different from that of tawo.
Even the commonly used word as barangay can be problematic. Is this the correct spelling as it is pronounced? Or should we use baranggay to make it right? The way we spell this word now, the pronunciation is different – ba-ra-ngay.
The problem in the use of the native Hiligaynon is that, unlike English, there is no standard dictionary or rules of grammar.
Take the case of our common way of saying, “kadto ka lang di.” Translated to English this should read “just go here.” This is grammatically wrong, but it is right when spoken as we mostly do.
What kind of reading material shall we use that has the right spelling and grammar as in the spoken language?
Has DepEd already printed this reading material for our kids or will the subjects, using Hiligaynon, rely on the popularly spoken, albeit grammatically incorrectly constructed sentences and pronunciation or wrongly spelled words?
I have not seen any Hiligaynon educational material but, considering the absence of a dictionary and standard rules of grammar, I wonder what kind of material will be used.
There is also the problem of terminologies. Which one will prevail? Shall we say “dyip” for the passenger jeep or use the right spelling “jeep” which is also a concoction of “general purpose (gp) vehicle”?
How about “titser”? Should we continue to use this or insist on the right English “teacher”?
In arithmetic we can have a problem. Shall we use the English numbers or the Hiligaynon, “isa”, “duha”, “tatlo” and “duha ka pulo ug (pulog) lima”?
As mandated, the teacher has to use the native numbers but parents had already been using the English numbers even before the child could walk. Of course we know the “close, open, close, open” ritual for babies even in the rural areas.
It would be interesting for our local officials to take a look at the materials to be used in the lowest rung of the educational system because we could be creating more confusion and miseducation at this low level of the ladder rather than helping improve the system.
Language is vital in education, that is a given, but language must be taught right. We insist on correct grammatical construction of sentences, logical presentation of thought and proper use the words to convey the right meaning.
Language, properly understood and conveyed is one of the main, if not the initial requirement for higher education. While we agree with education officials on the efficacy of native language use at the lower level there are circumstances in our case that are not present in other countries, for instance the level of development of the native language.
As I noted earlier, we do not have the approved dictionary and rules of grammar that insure that the native language that we use and teach is the right one. I can cite hundreds of differences in our language use – written and spoken that will put a lot of stress on our teachers as to which is correct.
Without an accepted dictionary or grammar, what will guide the teachers?*
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