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· Volume III Issue III

Context and Rationale

In 2009, the Department of Education (DEPED) issued Department Order (DO) number 74 institutionalizing Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE). It mandates the use of mother tongue as the medium of instruction within the first four years (Kindergarten & Grades 1 – 3) of a child’s education. The order is strongly founded on the representation that 1) learners will be more equipped through their mother tongue, 2) learners who first learned to read and write in their first language can adapt and engage quickly in the second or third language taught, and 3) that these learners are more competent at the cognitive level. It is plainly expressed that the education system of the Philippines significantly wants to raise the bar of the quality of education and be aligned with contemporaries who have proven that the use of mother tongue is an indicator of successful education policies. This is likely a response as well to the report (PDP 2017 – 2022) the difficulty in improving the quality of education in the Philippines persists. The plan puts emphasis on the need to focus on specific areas that failed to keep pace in order to consequently narrow down disparities. All these are aligned with the UNESCO definition of mother tongue instruction as the use of the learners’ mother tongue as the medium of instruction. Meanwhile, it can also refer to the mother tongue as a subject of instruction and is considered to be an important component of quality education, particularly in the early years. 

Monje et al. (2019) amidst the issues and concerns found out in their study, maintained the unrivalled pedagogy of the first language as the medium of instruction. Among the challenges mentioned is on multiple languages that a child and a society faces apart from the twelve originally considered languages which could impact on localization concerns of the schools; on learners facing dialectical variations for every language; the under appreciation of the concept and goals behind the MTB-MLE; and the lack of funding for the localization and for teaching materials and facilities. Looking at the same sentiments from international partners, Monje et. al (20190 enumerated recommendations toward successful implementation of the MTB-MLE which include: cascading information on its efficiency, exploring simultaneous bilingualism and improve service delivery, look into the relationship between knowledge of various languages and education outcomes, how to take advantage of technology and social media platform, and capacity building of educators. 

This action research focuses on the subject area of mathematics which is mandated to use mother tongue as a medium of instruction. Although all other areas are instructed to the same, the researcher believes that mathematics has a peculiar demand in terms of methods and interventions owing to its quantitative and objective nature.  The area has to be taken seriously as well with the claim that mathematics leads to a nation’s advancement (SEI- DOST 2011) being the foundation of science and engineering and other equally relevant courses. Hence, learners should start young to be adept of the subject and should be able to eloquently communicate its language. In support to this is what is the study mentioned in DO 74 regarding the study of DEPED-MIMAROPA on the Double Exposure in Mathematics: A Glimpse of Mother Tongue First which locally validated the basic observation that achiever countries in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) are the same countries whose medium of instruction for math and science is the first language. 

The motivation of the researcher is the observation that Grade 1 pupils of Calantawan Elementary School, Bgy. Calantawan, Motiong, Samar has significant difficulty in engaging in the mathematics class through the mother tongue as MOI. It is very challenging for them to visualize and understand numbers and operations resulting to mathematical statements that would least make sense to them. Because of these, the students are strained to progress to other lessons that are relatively more complicated than the previous ones. The students are quite and irresponsive. More so they are indifferent as to the scores they get in the quizzes. The teacher’s encouragement to participate and be proactive do not come out as fruitful yet. Thus, there is a dominant feeling of alienation towards the terms and the class in general thereby serving as a bad indicator in assessing the performance of the class towards achieving critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Teaching mathematics engenders a number of techniques and strategies in order to hone an inclusive teaching experience. The content itself is already very challenging and demanding. In this research what adds to the toil is the use of the mother tongue as a medium of instruction. The best initiative is to construct first a vocabulary of terminologies: the English term and its equivalent (and if its borrowed or not) and also a glossary of terms . These will serve as a guide for the students. This method is assumed to be effective if thereby implemented alongside the use of visual and images, repetition, timed testing, pair works and games . For this study, the mother tongue is waray-waray.

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