Saturday, January 28, 2006

English is not only for call centers – DepEd

By SHIANEE MAMANGLU, Manila Bulletin

EDUCATION Officer-in-Charge Dr. Fe Hidalgo on Monday said that the English language is not being intensified for call centers but as the language of information technology.

Reacting to an earlier call from Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas to restore English as the country’s medium of instruction to attract employment overseas, primarily the booming call center markets, Hidalgo said DepEd has been promoting English as a medium of instruction in public schools, except in the two subject areas — Filipino and Makabayan.

"We’re concerned that there is the need to really improve our proficiency. We’ve started intensifying the use of English. Today, a majority of the subject areas are taught in English except for those two subjects," Hidalgo said in an interview.


She agreed that the Filipino’s skill in English have diminished over the years thus the need to enhance it. But she expressed belief that this is not to set aside nationalism.

"When you speak English, it doesn’t mean you love your country less. We cannot set aside nationalism, we always emphasize nationalism," the Education official said.

Sto. Tomas asked DepEd recently to "set aside nationalism and restore English as the country’s medium of instruction" in the name of employment.

According to her, only five to 10 are accepted out of every 100 call center applicants today because of poor English skills particularly on communication.

She also blamed the use of "Taglish" (Tagalog & English) by young professionals to low hiring rate in call centers.

The DOLE chief said that if Filipinos can improve its English proficiency soon enough it can become the top. Currently, the Philippines is the second leading labor market for the global call center industry, next to India.

Hidalgo said that DepEd will be concentrating (more) on intensifying the training of teachers to improve their proficiency in the English language this year.

"Our objective is to intensify teacher training particularly on communication, and on how to teach. We also have a training program in the regions on how to teach reading effectively."

The DepEd’s School Mentoring Program, which seeks to train to mentor teachers is another project that promotes the English proficiency. In the last few years, over 60, 000 teachers across the country have been trained.

Under its national reading program, DepEd also promotes functional literacy to make every student read and understand what they read.

Hidalgo said that student’s reading comprehension should be enhanced starting at Grade 3.

DepEd is also looking into the possibility of obliging incoming or new teachers to take another examination that will test their proficiency in English on top of the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET).

It is also planning to require old teachers to undergo a seminar on English, math and science for the same purpose

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