Teach English in Chenji Zhen - Yangzhou Shi

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Filipinos living in Metro Manila usually think that knowledge in communicating in English is an indication of their level of education and their status in life. This is the reason why children from primary schools start their English journey way from their kindergarten up to the university level. These kids are taught how to read, write and talk in English. The idea of parents is that their children will have a better future if they have this communication skill. At home, those who belong to the upper economic strata will make sure that children will also communicate in English. Children acquire the accents of their parents, teachers and, other people around them who will try their best to talk in English to these kids. For those who are not as fortunate in terms of economic standing, kids will be forced to learn English only in school. And, this time their primary source of English is the teacher. This is due to the fact that in this economic strata parents are not as keen to pass this foreign communication skill to their children. As a consequence, the child will obtain the accent of the teacher whether talking in their native language or in English. The exposure of Filipinos in English dates back from the American colonization in the early 1900s. Americans established a government, trade and education system in the country similar to theirs. The way of life back then was all conformed to the land of stars and stripes. As a result, Filipinos were eloquent English speakers. English was used almost everywhere, from the halls of the honorable House of Senate to the House of Representatives down to the local trade and commerce. Local media used English as a staple. Movies, TV programs and radio - most of them showed programs in English and only a few dared to present in the native language (Tagalog). The change started when during the mid-1980s when the Philippines experienced new-found freedom. When the media industry explored a different path where most entertainment programs started to communicate mostly in Tagalog. After a full two decades in this situation, it was apparent that most Filipinos lost their love for the second language (English) that their forefathers have learned to nurture. The seeming lack of practice to communicate in English for most Filipinos paved the way to the deterioration of the ability to speak well in English and as a consequence eliminated one of the most treasured pride of the Philippine society - as the only English speaking country in Asia. Our difficulty in achieving a neutral English accent lies in different factors : (1) Our native language is strong in accentuating on the ‘T’ sound - the word mountain becomes [mawnt-tayn]; (2) Our inability to say the long ‘E’ like in the word receive becomes [ri-siv], seek becomes [sik], these becomes [dis], etc. (3) We only have one ‘A’ sound like in the word apple, so it’s hard for us to distinguish the words cap and cup as both words will be pronounced as [cap]; (4) The ‘O’ sound is pronounced as ‘oww’. Instead of saying orange [aw-ruhnj], we say [ow-raynj]. And many other pronunciation of words that are unique to Filipinos. To teach average Filipino students on how to communicate in English requires unlearning what they have learned. The teacher needs to encourage learners on the importance of using a neutral accent that is also understandable to other English speaking people. Some ideas on how to teach English in the Philippines are: 1. Video - present on how neutral accent speakers speak in English. 2. Role-play - practice how to communicate when traveling abroad. 3. Catch the ball - whoever catches the ball will pronounce a certain word in front of the class. 4. Presentation of a written work of the students’ own journey while learning English. Filipinos love to emulate someone they admire. They tend to copy how their idol speaks and dress up. So, it is advisable if the teacher can invite a person who speaks well in English whom the students can look up to and whom the students can learn. I would like to encourage all my countrymen to bring back the glory that we’ve lost by continuously propagating and nurturing our love for English which we considered as our second language since the time of our forefathers.