Primary Science Education Using Two Languages, Bicol and Filipino : The Case of Bicol Speaking Students in the Bicol Region, Philippines
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ビコールとフィリピノの２言語を用いた初等理科教育 : フィリピンのビコール地域におけるビコール話者の生徒の場合
Vela, Jualim Datiles
The purpose of this study is to determine in which language Bicol-speaking students have better understanding of science ideas. The study also examined the students’ extent of language usage in and outside their homes, and their language preference when learning science. Additionally, this study also investigated primary school teachers’ opinions on their students’ language preference in learning science.
The study focused in soliciting students’ and teachers’ perceptions on language use in science, developing instructional materials, and administering science lessons using two local languages, Filipino, the national language, and Bicol, the mother language of the respondents which were then compared to respondents who were taught using the English language, the instructional language of science education.
The study was guided by the following process. First, the language demography of the country and the language policies implemented thru the constitution and department of education orders were reviewed. Studies conducted in other regions which are related to mother language-based education were also reviewed. Second, the researcher conducted school visits to public primary schools located in the provinces of the Bicol region. School principals and teachers were interviewed, and science classes in three class sections were observed focusing on the language use. Third, based on the insights gained, the research design and framework of the study was formulated and research materials were developed. Fourth, the research materials were administered to selected participants, afterwards data were collected and analyzed.
The study aimed to address the main research problem: Do Bicol-speaking primary students understand the science lesson and other science related activities better in Bicol or Filipino, compared to English?
In order to provide the answer, the following specific research problems guided the course of the research: (1) What are the effects of using two languages, Bicol and Filipino, on students’ academic performance in science compared to using the language of instruction in science? In which language do students understand better? (2) What are the students’ language preference in learning science ideas, and their language environment in and out of their school? And, (3) What are the perceptions of primary school teachers towards the mother language-based science education?
The descriptive methodology was employed during the process of this study. Instruments that were used in the research included survey questionnaires and actual classroom lesson, reading comprehension and vocabulary tests in three languages. The survey questionnaires served as data to find out the students’ language preference in learning science ideas in science related activities. Actual classroom lessons provides data on students’ performance (recitations, class participation, expression of own ideas, following teacher’s instructions) in class. The tests in three languages consisted of a reading material about the science topic from the lessons taught, and test items that determine if the students understood what they have been taught.
The findings revealed the following:
1. Students who were taught using the Filipino language obtained better mean scores in the test compared to students who were taught using their mother language. On the other hand, students who were taught using the English language obtained the lowest mean scores. Furthermore, the results revealed that students prefer the Filipino language during class discussions, recitations, in following their teacher’s instructions during science related classroom activities, and in doing their homework.
2. Students who were taught using the Filipino and Bicol languages exhibited easiness and eagerness to participate and follow teachers instruction during science classes. Students were also able to express their own ideas during class recitations and discussions compared to the students who were taught in English.
3. The results of the tests in which student respondents obtained better scores in Filipino was supported by the results of the survey administered to them. The results revealed that majority respondents prefer the Filipino language in learning and comprehending science concepts, in expressing their own ideas, and in following their teacher’s instructions.
4. The results also revealed that from teachers’ point of view, the Filipino language, even though not the mother language of the students in the region, is the language preferred by students in most science related activities along with the Bicol language. On the other hand, although their students favor the Filipino language in various science related activities, for several reasons (e.g. the difficulty and cost of translating science concept into local languages, the status of English as the international language, the importance of English for higher education, lack of training in multilingual-based teaching), a considerable number of teacher respondents still perceive that English is the best medium (most appropriate) of instruction for primary science education in the Bicol region.
Several insights were gained from the data of this study. First, the Bicol speaking primary students switch languages between home and school which could affect their learning. Second, the results of the tests revealed that Bicol speaking students have demonstrated better performance when they were taught in the Filipino and Bicol languages. The findings are supported by the studies conducted by Dekker and Dumatog in 2003, by Balce in 2010 and by Oyzon et al., 2012, which similarly resulted to better performance of student respondents in their mother language. Third, the use of local languages in teaching science ideas at the moment would depend on the content being taught. Fourth, the results of the study show that the use of two local languages, Filipino and Bicol languages, in primary science level could benefits Bicol-speaking students in terms of better understanding of science ideas.
Lastly, although Bicol is the mother language of the student respondents, they performed better in the test in Filipino language, which is the national language. This indicate that at this time, the Filipino language has a stronger foundation as an academic language than Bicol since Filipino is also the language of instruction in subjects such as Social Studies and Filipino. In addition to Filipino being spoken, written and used as medium of instruction, it is also used in school textbooks, magazines and newspapers.
Based on the findings in this study, it is concluded that, grade 3 Bicol-speaking students understand science ideas from science lessons and other science related activities better in Filipino language and in Bicol language compared to the English language.
Most importantly, the results of this study revealed that the Bicol speaking students were conditioned to the Filipino language that they became familiar and comfortable using the language. Therefore, if the learners are highly exposed to other language in spite of existing mother tongue language, this may affect the language preference of the students’ in the learning process in the classroom.
Thus, the study recommended further research on mother language-based science education by developing more instructional lessons and materials to various thematic content of the science curriculum to determine whether the use of local languages is appropriate to lesson being taught. Further research on finding and developing equivalent or near equivalent meanings or definitions of science terms in the local languages. Providing more opportunities for teachers as well as school administrators to develop school-based instructional materials for science education using local languages that students are familiar.
Doctor of Philosophy