NOTE: I was requested by a niece who teaches at Mapatag Elementary School to write or expound on the above subject. It was used last year as entry piece to a Declamation contest in a Divisional level and came out second in place.
STRENGTHENING 21ST CENTURY LEARNERS THROUGH LANGUAGE
LANGUAGE is that which makes communication with people of different cultures possible. Every country in the world has its own language, one main, adopted as a National Language and many other forms or variations of it in the various regions and provinces.
The ENGLISH LANGUAGE, has long been declared the international language, allowing peoples from different countries a common way of communicating among each other. The need for a common language is understandable enough because peoples of the earth are interconnected and need to cooperate with each other for progress or development and synchronization in case of concerns affecting every inhabitant of the world.
Take for example the United Nations, the governing body of all countries. Without a common language, which is the ENGLISH language, it is impossible for every member country representative to understand each other. Because of this interconnectivity, each country has adopted including the English language as a subject in its curriculum or formal education.
The Philippines, among her Asian neighbors, has been hailed as a non-native English speaking country which has the most number of people who are proficient in the English language. Yet, year after year, the secondary schools have been producing students who are not fully versed with the language, but are likely able to understand and speak in English. But usage through the written form, is flawed because of some glaring grammatical errors. Teachers, themselves, are not perfect when it comes to the correct usage of the language, especially those who are not majoring in teaching the English subject. They are able to understand and speak the language but like the many students moving to the universities, their written English is mostly grammatically incorrect.
Realizing this common occurrence of the high school students not adept in the English language, the country’s educational system started to adopt the English-speaking countries way by adding two more years to the pre-university stage. Teachers have also been encouraged to take Masteral classes with teaching English as a second language, as their choice of expertise.
The world is getting more competitive in the current stance because of the modern Information Technology. There is now a faster and instant communication brought about by the Internet and connectivity through social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the likes. Because of this, a need to strengthen the Filipinos’ edge in the field of competition and progress at par with the native-English speaking peoples, is imperative. For this reason that the Philippines’ educational system is now aiming for this century’s excellence as far as communication through the international language is concerned.
Reading is a must if this is to be successfully achieved and it has been known that the most avid readers are the ones who are more proficient in the English language. Through reading, one can readily learn the proper usage of words and the correct grammar. But this is, of course, coupled with teaching at schools by articulate English speaking and writing teachers.
If done both ways, there is no reason for the students to be able to practice and become an expert in reading comprehension and usage of correct grammar when the English language is put into paper.
The English language is quite intricate because the rules are never the same or constant. There is no uniformity especially in the use of punctuation, pronunciations, prepositions, tenses, spellings, syntax and many more. Take for example the subject’s predicate. If the subject, which is always a noun, is followed by a verb using the tenses, not all forms in the past tense is followed by an “-ed”, as in “Pepe read a book”. You can’t say or write “Pepe readed a book” because that will make it grammatically incorrect. The verb “read” is added with an “s” at the end if the tense is in the present form and the subject is singular, like “Pepe reads a book”. If the subject is plural, the “s” is dropped as in “Pepe and Pilar read a book”. It is always a “read” when used as a past tense or as a past participle like “has read” but it can take other forms as auxiliaries, like “is/are reading” or “has/have been reading” or “had been reading”.
The best way to master the language is through constant reading, as well, as writing. Reading materials are countless and the modern way can be done now through the use of the fast evolving Information Technology. The traditional books are now slowly being transformed into digital readings. This form is now considered to be the easiest and the most comfortable way of developing the habit of reading, with the end purpose of getting proficient and adept in the use of the English language.
If you are going on a holiday, travellling to faraway places, books will take much of your space in your luggage but the digital form can simply do with just a laptop or an android, lighter and very convenient to carry along anywhere.
What does this modern reality translate into our educational system? It means that in order to strengthen the learners’ competitive edge in the use of language in the 21st Century, schools should have connectivity to the Internet. The world wide web (www) will serve as an added and effective tool in mastering the English language, impacting as many a learner’s ability to take part in the undertakings in the whole wide world! The Filipinos then can easily compete and excel thus leveling the world’s playing field!