Language Complexity in the Philippines [CIES Presentation]

Presentation delivered at CIES.This study attempts to determine whether or not the complexity of the L1 should be a factor in interpreting reading achievement in multilingual contexts, as well as in planning early grade reading teaching and learning materials and curricula in settings with complex languages.

Results and Implications of a 2019 Study of Fidelity of Implementation of the Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) Policy in the Philippines

This presentation highlights some of the results and implications of a 2019 study on fidelity of implementation of the language of instruction policy in the Philippines. In 2009 the Philippines Department of Education issued Order No. 74 calling for the use of the learners’ mother tongue (MT) as the main medium of teaching and learning (MoTL) in kindergarten through grade 3. The policy introduces Filipino and English as additional languages of instruction, gradually increasing their usage until they take over as the primary MoTL in grade 4. Successfully navigating students through three languages in the early grades is a daunting task. Building on previous studies of MTB-MLE policy implementation in the Philippines, this study examined how teacher assignment, class sectioning (grouping learners by MT), materials provisioning and usage, and teachers’ language usage in the classroom conforms to or diverges from the policy, especially across locations with different contextual factors. It also looked at the factors associated with higher implementation.

Reading achievement in the Philippines: The role of language complexity

This study looks at the impact of first language (L1, or “mother tongue”) complexity on reading achievement in the Philippines using Grade 3 Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) data collected in 2013 and 2019. EGRA data were collected from 232 schools in 2013, when students learned to read in the national languages of Filipino and English. These data on English and Filipino performance were collected again in the same schools in 2019, when students would have, according to policy, learned to read first in their mother tongue.

2019 Regional Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA): Bahasa Sug, Chavacano, Magindanawn, and Mëranaw

This study measured students’ reading ability and gathered basic demographic information from children and teachers. Some standard context information was also gathered from children about their exposure to reading in the home. Thus, the data allow us to describe one outcome of the current schools sampled—children’s reading ability—but they do not provide any empirical measurement of the inputs that contribute to this outcome. To explain the current state of reading performance as measured by this study, we must rely on other contextual data from our concurrent Language Usage Study and general knowledge of mother-tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-MLE) implementation, as documented by policy and other studies carried out by other researchers. In the absence of direct measurement of “implementation fidelity” to a particular reading instruction program or materials, we must also rely on global evidence of how reading skills develop in alphabetic languages. To put it simply, children can learn to read, but only if they are taught to read. Teachers can only teach reading if they have been prepared to do so through training and are equipped with appropriate materials. Teachers and students must be present and making productive use of class time. The purpose of using EGRA as a system diagnostic is primarily to establish a baseline against which future progress can be measured and to identify priority areas for instructional improvement and teacher training. Cite this report: Betts, K., Punjabi, M., Pouezevara, S. & Cummiskey, C. (2019). 2019 Regional Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA): Bahasa Sug, Chavacano, Magindanawn, and Mëranaw. Prepared for USAID under the All Children Reading-Philippines Project, AID-OAA-TO- 16-00017. Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI.

2019 Language Usage Study in Bahasa Sug, Chavacano, Magindanawn, and Mëranaw Mother Tongue Schools

The objective of this study was to provide insight into the relationships between the teachers’ and students’ language usage, the MTB-MLE policy implementation, and student reading outcomes, especially in areas with linguistically heterogeneous populations. It sought to examine how language usage in the classroom conforms to or diverges from the MTB-MLE policy after six years of implementation, which factors are associated with higher policy implementation, and how language usage by teachers and students relates to student learning outcomes.