A university in Manila has imposed an “English-only policy” supposedly to improve its students’ proficiency in English. Speaking in languages other than English is allowed only at certain areas within the campus. The constituents of the university–the name of which is in Filipino–may also speak in any languange around midday.
The Inquirer quoted the university’s president as saying they want “to create an environment” in which those who will speak in Filipino at the English zones will be ignored.
This policy, besides being ironic–the university that imposes it is called Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila–is stupid. While contributing to the continued marginalization of the Filipino language, it suppresses the natural flow of communication between students, teachers and staff of the university and makes these people sound awful.
Imagine a crowd trying very hard to speak a languange other than their own. Think of students artificially chatting in English as if they are acting in a school play. Funny, isn’t it?
We wonder if those pushing for the use of English in schools ever thought about how they complicate the process of learning by insisting on using a language that is foreign to both the students and the teachers. Even Manila Times, an English daily, admits that “[t]here’s some evidence that a child learns faster and retains what he or she learned longer when taught in his or her home language.”
Proponents of the use of English argue that proficiency in the language would make Filipinos globally competitive, as if every single Filipino has to communicate with the global village. Which is of course, not necessary.
As UP Prof. Luis Teodoro wrote: “It’s also virtually impossible to make an entire population literate in a foreign language they don’t use in their daily lives. And it’s not really necessary, unless, by “global competitiveness” the die-hard partisans of the English language mean Filipino capacity to compete in the international labor market as domestics and day laborers–and unless it is the country’s permanent aim to keep on providing that kind of labor to the rest of the world forever and ever.
Maybe that’s why Rizal called the language as the soul of the nation and those who love their language will surely yearn for freedom. Unfortunately for us, while we keep on disregarding our languange, we dare not dream of being freed from being mere servants of other peoples of the world.