Higher standards for English

English is an everyday language for Filipino students as it has been for decades. There is hardly any student who could not, to some extent, speak and understand the language. One can’t help but wonder why there is a decline in quality English speakers among students and a low performance
in school.

It is important to provide higher standards in English education. While the ability to communicate in English is not the be-all and end-all, it is a necessary and very useful tool in our quest for education and for globalization. Schools and teachers need to step up and ensure that students do not merely understand and speak jagged English, but to be truly fluent in the language and have effective communication skills.

Unfortunately, those who are in fact good in the English language are ridiculed and considered snobbish or “trying too hard” and other similar labels. Those who try to correct bad grammar are called know-it-alls. Criticism is taken negatively and quite personally. On the other hand, students take comfort in average and poor skills; that they no longer study to get better. “Tag-‘Lish” is even considered cool and a very acceptable “language”.

There is this long standing debate whether those who are fluent in speaking English are indeed smart or are simply good at mimicking. Regardless, the ability to learn and master a different language is a skill not many possess. It is something that our educational system must work on. It is not to say that poor knowledge of the language is necessarily bad, but one would hope
that with years in basic education, students must graduate armed with good communication skills in English.

Mastery of the English language is not a status symbol; nor is it a trend. It is a very vital skill in the professional world that every student must possess. It is indispensable in communication particularly in the global arena. Let us not be content in mediocrity. Let our educational system aim for better and higher standards for English.