English and Mind Development

Manila Bulletin, September 29, 2006 | Go to article overview
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English and Mind Development


Byline: Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, SJ

CONGRATULATIONS to our congressmen especially the authors of the bill to make English the language of instruction. Preferably, curriculum matters should not be legislated but since this is merely to correct legislation of a previous era, pushed by nationalism for a national language. Times change and people mature and can look calmly on learning a non-native language and not consider it as less patriotic. We have had English as a legal language and lingua franca for our islands for over a century now. That we need another language for us to develop as a nation and individually can now be accepted without negative emotions. No doubt we need a national language for our unity but we also need another developed language with vast literature and books for our mental development, information, and trade. Literature, philosophy, art, world history, etc. cannot be accessed by our national language at this time. Time will come when it will be capable. But it is incapable at present so we need English. (Spanish and Chinese would also be helpful but these would be more difficult for us and perhaps not as useful.)

To have English as a useful tool, it is not enough for our legislators to decree that it will be used as the language of instruction. This is good and the right thing but not enough. The important thing is that we learn it at home. This is critical. We can learn the language at minimal cost and more effectively if we encourage use of English at home. Use of English in the class room is very expensive. Use of English on campus is less expensive but the cheapest is usage at home and out of school. Many of our middle class speak English at home. Ask the President and our legislators if they speak English at home. Many of them, if not most, will tell you that they do. Children can handle two languages without difficulty.

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