SIL Philippines

Mother Tongue-based Multilingual Education

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Serving Language Communities through Linguistics, Literacy and Translation since 1953

  • The Learning Resources Management and Development System (DepEd) LINK
  • MTB-MLE Network Link
  • LEAD Asia LINK
  • Mother Tongue-Based MLE Conference in the Philippines February 2010 link
  • MTB-MLE implementation in the Philippines highlighted in Myanmar conference link

  • Lubuagan, Kalinga, Mother Tongue-First MLE research
  • Linguistic Society of the Philippines honors SIL MLE consultant link
  • The Bridge to Filipino and English: Third Year Results of the First Language MLE Program in the Philippines PDF 334KB
  • Lubuagan, Kalinga MLE video 2MB, or 12MB.
  • The Lubuagan Mother Tongue Education Experiment (FLC):
    A Report of Comparative Test Results
    , Feb 2008 PDF 188KB

Mother Tongue-based Multilingual Education

The languages of instruction and literacy in Philippine schools are foreign and incomprehensible to more than 70% of Philippine students. This is a phenomenon common to many other countries in Asia as well, and throughout the world. This situation predetermines that minority language students are unable to understand the content of teaching at school. However, this situation does not have to be...

Using the language the child understands – the child's first language, or mother tongue –for teaching lesson content in the first 6 years of school, not only enables the child to immediately master curriculum content, but in the process, it affirms the value of the child and her/his cultural and language heritage. Additionally, because Filipino and English are taught as subjects, learning skills that are built using the child's mother tongue are easily applied to the acquisition of Filipino and English.

First language education teaches children how to learn by using a familiar medium, and in the process builds critical thinking skills – cognition – so necessary in the learning process. As subject matter gets increasingly complex in later grades, studies show that children are able to transfer these cognitive skills to other media of instruction, and to the learning of more difficult subject matter, often taught in Filipino and English.

Educators in the Philippines have long pondered what is needed in Philippine schools pedagogy to improve lagging student performance. Longitudinal studies being conducted by Diane and Greg Dekker, and Dr. Stephen L. Walter, under the auspices of SIL International and the Philippine Department of Education, in Lubuagan, Kalinga, Philippines are showing that children being educated using their mother tongue first are out-performing students being educated in Filipino-first and English-first, by a difference of 40 percentage points. Philippine educators, the Department of Education, and other policy makers are taking time to familiarize themselves with mother tongue-first multilingual education, and are examining whether the time is right for a change in Philippine education policy.

SIL International is privileged to work with our colleagues and friends in the Philippines, throughout Asia and elsewhere in this discovery process of examining the benefits of mother tongue-first multilingual education.