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COMPETING ROLES OF THE NATIONAL

LANGUAGE AND ENGLISH IN MALAYSIA AND THE


PHILIPPINES: PLANNING, POLICY AND USE
Francisco Perlas Dumanig, Maya Khemlani David and Loraine Symaco
Journal of International and Comparative Education. 2012. Volume 1, Issue 2

Summary

The Philippines Language Policy

Philippines has about 170 languages spread across over a hundred ethnic groups. The
policy, implementation and the effects throughout the years are summarized in the table
below.

Policy Implementation Effects


Philippines Bilingual English and Filipino are official Contributed to the
Education 1947 languages of literacy – implementation abandonment of minority
was to make people bilingual languages

Primary school: Filipino language


Secondary : English and Filipino
language

Vernacular Language Vernacular language is to be used as Provides opportunity to


1973 medium of instruction at the primary enhance national language
level (Grade 1-2) since there are a variety of
languages in the Philippines.
Revised:
Allow English and Filipino as medium of Regional languages as
instruction in all levels auxiliary languages helps in
Vernacular languages as auxiliary the maintenance of ancestral
language languages.

Lingua Franca Education A national bridging program form To develop initial literacy for
Project 1999 vernacular to Filipino and later to public schools
English
Lubuagan First
Language Component Emphasis given to kindergarten and
grades 1-3

Multilingual Education Promote the use of mother tongue/ Supposedly to promote


Initiative 2009 vernacular languages (including better learning among the
dialects) students

• Aims to promote the use of mother


tongue
• First language over the second
language

Malaysia

Language Policies

In colonial Malaya, English was the official language while Malay, Chinese and Tamil are
considered vernacular languages. After the country’s independence in 1957, there were
Malay nationalists that deemed English produced a detrimental effect on the development of
Malay language. The article quoted Chai (1971) who said English is considered as an
obstacle to the educational, social and economic advance of the majority of the Malays. The
leaders of the major communities had agreed that Malay would be the national language as
a symbol of unity.

Policy Implementation Effects


Memorandum 1953 Malay as the national language
(although less than 50 per cent of the
population at that time spoke Malay)

Malay is only phrased as the national 1957 - 1967


language and not the official Continue to use English for
language all official purposes

Malay nationalists are


discontented with the slow
progress in the
institutionalization of Malay
in the country

National Language Act Continued use of English: A steady increase of


1967 Use Malay language in political enrolment in English medium
domains (the language of secondary schools
administration, education and for all
formal and official purposes)
Rahman Talib Report Malay language as medium of Chinese, Indians and Malay
1960 instruction are required to undergo an
extra year in the “remove
Vernacular schools were allowed to classes” in the secondary
remain until primary level school.

Remove classes (transitional class): to


effectively transfer students from
vernacular to Malay medium secondary
schools

Reduce the influence of English schools were converted to


English as it was Malay medium
associated then with • West Malaysia by1983
British imperialism. • East Malaysia by 1985

All English medium primary schools


were required to teach physical
education, art and craft, local studies
and Music in Malay language before the
shift to Malay occurred the Science
subject
The Education Act 1977 English medium schools were All university education
converted to national schools in being conducted in Malay
Peninsular Malaysia
Students have to obtain a
Malay language as medium of credit in Malay to be
instruction awarded the SPM certificate.