Why Filipinos Have a Hard Time Learning and Teaching English
It must be shocking to know that the Philippines, where a lot of English as Second Language (ESL) teachers come from, actually ranked lowest in reading comprehension among 79 countries. I was as flabbergasted as you might have been.
English is taught in the Philippines from kindergarten. It is the medium of instruction except for Filipino subjects such as Philippine language and literature and Mother Tongue. But once assessments are done, the result is always disappointing. Why? Let me give you some insights on the possible reasons it is so.
Contrary to being known to have colonial mentality, a lot of Filipinos somewhat feel inferior or scared when someone speaks English better than they are. It is the reason many of us would rather keep quiet. But one Filipino trait is finding or trying to make situations funny so we try to speak worse than we usually are, just to sound hilarious to the person with whom we are speaking.
Many students also view that speaking English better means higher intelligence. This should not be the case. No language is superior than the others. It shouldn’t be used to make one more superior, rather, to make everyone equal. English is used mostly in media, trade, Sciences and Mathematics so it will be very useful to speak the language.
2. Being mocked.
A lot of Filipinos have this misused concept of Patriotism. When someone tries to use the language, you would hear people saying, ‘We are Filipinos, just speak in Filipino’ or ‘Wow, English!’ These are hardly compliments, but said with derision. When you ask a student in the classroom to speak in English, some students would look at each other with a mocking stare or smirk. One might even yell, ‘Nosebleed!’. These behaviors demotivate not only the person asked to talk, but the others who are observant enough to see the implicit reactions.
It is worse when it comes to spoken English. Even if one person says the correct pronunciation, more people would stick to what they’ve been using to avoid being tagged as ‘trying hard’ to be a native speaker. And these unhelpful behavior is contagious,hence, the incorrect concept is retained longer and wider.
Negative attitude towards the language is one of the worst reasons people don’t improve.
English is taught from younger years until the end of the compulsory education and is continued to higher levels. But it is not rare to see and hear students struggle with grammar and sentence construction. Why? It could be that the materials and instructions in the classroom are to be partly blamed. Students have little time to practice verbal communications. If the basic concepts such as grammar aren’t mastered in the formative years, there will be a more difficult time to learn them in the later years.
One big contributor of malpractice among younger learners is that they have almost infinite access to online materials. Yes. It is true that a lot of teens are into reading. but what materials do they read? They seldom choose classic materials such as Shakespeare or even the more contemporary but recognized writers. They choose materials which are usually written by independent or aspiring writers. There should be nothing wrong with it. But due to the ease in publishing anything and accessing them as well, these materials are hardly checked by editors and experts. That is why whenever there are errors, they are left unchecked.
It is not about the lack of materials, but the person’s choice in trying to learn English. There are good materials in which one can invest. Don’t be scared to commit mistakes.Don’t be offended when someone points out your slips.Be thankful instead.Don’t be disappointed if you can’t improve overnight. Just like any other skills,English has to be reinforced and constantly used in order to improve.
So to English educators, there is what we call the rule of thumb. ‘If you cannot teach them proper English, do not confuse them with your English.’