The UST English Language Studies Society (ELSSOC) hosted a webinar on “WIKANG WINIKA: A Webinar on Mother Tongue-based Multilingual Education” held on April 21, 2021. This event brought together resource persons considered “powerhouses” in their respective fields of specialization in linguistics, namely, Dr. Ruanni Tupas, Dr. Ricardo Ma. Nolasco, and Dr. Diane Dekker.
Sociolinguistics expert Dr. Ruanni Tupas explained the importance of linguistic values that individuals incorporate towards multilingual dialogues. Tupas reiterated, “If we talk about the indexicality (a re-valued indexicality) of our Philippine languages, we need to start with that and move forward.”
Tupas also discussed how we should properly address and appreciate our own mother tongue, which may soon be relatively admired in our educational system. “Kung hindi mababa ang tingin natin sa mga wika ng Pilipinas, hindi mababa ang tingin natin sa mga wika na dinadala ng mga estudyante natin sa classroom, sa education system,” he explained. (If we would not view Philippine languages as less prestigious, then we would not look down on the languages that our students bring to the classroom, to the education system.)
Mother Tongue Based, Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) expert Dr. Ricardo Ma. Nolasco stressed the importance of “genuine MTB-MLE policy” in the K-12 curriculum. He explained that L1 (first language) and L2 (second language) are additive and not subtractive. “Ang prinsipyo ng (The principle of) MTB-MLE is additive: L1 plus L2 system. It is an additive, no exit, L1/L2 system and not a subtractive, short exit L1 to L2 bridging system,” he stressed.
Nolasco also discussed the essential properties of the Philippine educational system as compared to other countries such as Japan. “Hindi oa (Over Acting) yung kanilang (Japan’s) curriculum. Dito ang curriculum natin, palakihan — sila, napakasimple,” Nolasco explained, citing the characteristics of our education curriculum compared to that of Japan. (Japan’s curriculum is not excessive. Ours is complex — theirs, simple.)
Following Nolasco’s discussion on the MTB-MLE instruction agenda, Dr. Diane Dekker, a Senior Literacy and Education Consultant for the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) International, also shared her views to strengthen the implementation of MTB-MLE programs in the Philippines.
Having previously worked in the Philippines for the past 25 years, Dekker discussed her findings and fascination about how MTB-MLE is valued toward Philippine education.
“We know that we have to make some changes to the way we see languages, and how languages are used for teaching and learning, and that means space needs to be created for including Philippine language development in the academe,” she said.
The significance of MTB-MLE was highlighted once again, when Dekker emphasized the principles of Philippine languages toward education. “We have to understand the value of those languages in terms of learning — learning with comprehension, learning with the ability to analyze and to synthesize, and to evaluate and to internalize the learning that we are doing.”
The webinar, primarily spearheaded by UST ELSSOC Public Relations Officer Ms. Gene Margarette Barrera, provided a digital pathway toward the well-respected values of MTB-MLE driven by an array of cultures across the globe.
“All cultures contribute to global knowledge, and they make us all better, so we need to learn to appreciate one another, to listen to each other, and to learn from each other,” Dekker pointed out.