Diversity

‘K to 12’ challenge in Vizcaya: Teach kids in 16 dialects

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—Education officials here on Thursday acknowledged the difficulty faced by teachers in a province where at least 16 dialects exist, in line with the education department’s thrust to teach children in their native tongue.

Worse, many children here even struggle speaking Iloco, the dialect that the Department of Education (DepEd) prescribed as the mother tongue and medium of instruction in the province, according to Dr. Gloria Gallardo, acting assistant schools division superintendent.

“Our teachers were surprised to learn that when they started to use Iloco in class, many of their students said they could not understand what their teachers were saying,” she said.

The dialect mismatch is just one of the bumps that the DepEd has encountered in the first four weeks of implementation of the K to 12 program, which officials consider as a breakthrough reform in the country’s educational system.

Part of the program is the mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-MLE), which mandates the use of the dialect as medium of instruction from Kindergarten to Grade 3 in public schools.

Gallardo said the MTB-MLE is based on recent studies which showed that children, who were first taught in their mother tongue, performed better than when they were taught in their second language, such as Filipino.

The DepEd has chosen eight major languages to be used as media of instruction, including Iloco for areas in northern Luzon.

“What we have found is that many children, especially those in upland communities, do not understand, much less speak Iloco. On the other hand, most children in urbanizing towns nowadays speak Tagalog,” Gallardo said.

To meet the goals of the program, teachers are encouraged to strive to teach and develop materials written in the specific dialects, she said.

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) has identified 16 tribes here, with each group speaking dialects that are distinct from one another.

“The number of tribes present in the province is the same as the number of dialects spoken because each group has its own. For instance, the Ayangan and Tuwali tribes from Ifugao vary in their dialects,” said Gregorio Singangan, NCIP provincial director.

Aside from Iloco and Tagalog-speaking communities, Nueva Vizcaya is also host to the Ayangan, Bago, Bugkalot, Dumagat, Gaddang, Ikalahan, Isinai, Isneg, Iwak, Kalanguya, Kankanaey, Karao and Tuwali tribes.

“It is quite remarkable that children in tribal communities are strongly attached to their culture, especially in their native dialect. They use it in their daily activities,” he said.

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