Friday, August 17, 2007

Love or Language

English getting lost in translation in Philippines
By Carlos H. Conde

MANILA: "We grow our hogs in our own farms so you're sure to get meat that is grown."

"The city's voice is soft like solitudes."

"He found his friend clowning himself around."

"He seemed to be waiting for someone, not a blood relation, much less a bad blood."

Such phrases, lifted from government-approved textbooks used in Filipino public schools, are reinforcing fears that crucial language skills are degenerating in a country that has long prided itself on having some of the world's best English speakers. At a time when English is widely considered an advantage in global competitiveness for any country, many fear this former U.S. colony is slipping.

English is an official language here, along with the native Tagalog. Yet the U.S. State Department, in its "2007 Investment Climate Statement," released this month, concluded: "English-language proficiency, while still better than in other Southeast Asian nations, is declining in the Philippines."

The article from the Herald Tribune is news only to those who live outside of the Philippines. We are all abundantly aware here. How can you expect these kids to learn English when they don’t even have schoolrooms and sturdy desks? And let’s not even talk about the more than 50,000 teachers who have left the country. We need to be teaching these children LOVE for country. Will you expect them to clean their surroundings, respect the rule of law, conserve natural resources, learn and earn abroad and return from abroad if they don’t give a rat’s ass about their country?

An educator who recently attended a seminar for teachers in Tokyo told me that Korean, Japanese, Chinese students had the following priorities in descending order: country, family, education, health and work. Here we have family, God, education. Education I presume being the stepping stone to foreign shores. Nothing about the country. You think Japan became the second largest economy on the strength of the English skills of its citizens? And Koreans? Ever wonder why there have been many Filipino physicians in the US and hardly any Koreans? Because Korean doctors have a difficult time passing the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language).

It’s never been about language. It’s always been about love.

1 comment:


Dear Dr. Martin,
Just to inform you that I am waiting for your next move. I admire your courageous move from your comfort zone to the couldron known as Philippine politics.
Best to your Dad Andy and Mom LIta.
They are definitely proud fo you no end. I would too as a fellow Filipino and perhaps if I were in their place.
Mabuhay ka.
Tony Joaquin