Difficult transition from English to Binisayâ and Binisayâ to English

Topic |  

Difficult transition from English to Binisayâ and Binisayâ to English

Topic |  


During the Spanish era the language of instruction in the primary and elementary grades (primera enseñanza) was Binisayâ and supplemented by Spanish. The parents who desired to have their children study in the higher grades must hire a tutor for their children.  The Spaniards have no desire to teach Spanish to the ordinary children.

Due to this situation, the Bisayan language was able to maintain the native words and grammar.  When the Spaniards left the Philippines in 1898, the Sugboanon Bisaya language was at par with the Spanish language.

When the Americans conquered the Philippines, they created the Public School System of education.  Everything was patterned after the American system.  Only the English language was allowed to be use in the school system.


However the Americans respected the separation of Church and State.  Since the Church used the Binisayâ language, the natives were able to maintain their native language.  So it came to pass that the Church and the community was using the Bisayâ and the school system was using the English language.  The native languages in the Philippines have the disadvantage of stagnation and deterioration because it was not allowed to grow in school.

Complete Colonization

As a result of American colonization, there was a complete dominance by the Americans in the political, social, intellectual, and mental aspect of the Filipinos and the Boholanos.

Before the implementation of the MTB-MLE in 2013, the standard measure of intelligence was the English language: “Bulók ning batáa kay dili kahibalo mo-Ininglis. = This child is dull because he does not know the English language.”

The comment is one sided because nobody will say that “The American child is dull because he does not know the Sugboanon language.”



When the MTB Law took effect on 2013, the Department of Education (DepEd) did not know what to do.   Generally the DepEd officials and teachers were of the opinion that the native language to be used will be the “colloquial language”. The members of LUDABI calls it Binisayóp (wrong Bisaya) instead of Binisayâ. The English words are just changed in spelling and the grammar is still in English and not Bisayan grammar.


The teachers were not re-trained in order to learn the Bisayan grammar.  In fact they insist that the inflectional English grammar is applicable to the agglutinative Bisayan grammar.

In 2019 the new Regional DepEd 7 Director, Dr. Salustiano Jimenez, became cognizant that the implementation of MTB-MLE was erroneous. The colloquial Binisayâ could make the pupils apply their language in the intellectualized manner.

So last December 2019 the 204 MTB coordinators in Central Visayas were given training in Sugboanon Binisayâ grammar, psychology, and philosophy (3 hours), mathematics (3 hours), science (3 hours), and literature and music (3 hours).  The training of the teachers were supposed to follow in 2020 but the COVID-19 pandemic stopped the project.


Ignorance of the Language

In year 2013 the pupils in Kindergarten and Grade I were taught using Binisayâ as the medium of instruction.  The pupils were taught using Binisayâ up to Grade 3.


Even though the teachers and pupils were not taught about the Bisayan language, unconsciously the pupils’ mind were wired in the Bisayan language and grammar.

When the pupils reached Grade 4, the Grade 4 teachers said that the pupils did not know anything.  The pupils could not understand English.

I told the Grade 4 and Grade 5 teachers that the pupils were knowledgeable, it is the teachers that are ignorant.  You think that your English grammar is applicable to the Bisayan language of the pupils.

Big Differences

English is an inflectional language.  It relies so much on the verb and the verb is conjugated to give you the tense and number.  Binisayâ is an agglutinative language.  It relies so much on the affixes (about 4,300).  Binisayâ could make a sentence without a verb, as “Tambok si Pedro. = Fat this Pedro”.

In English the meaning is found in the words in the sentence.  In Binisayâ the meaning is found in the intention.  “Pedro hain ra kadtong kuan kay akò nang kuanón. = Pedro, where is the thingamajig because I will thingamajig it.”

English uses tense (past, present, future) and Binisayâ uses aspect of time. Binisayâ has no present tense but it has the aorist tense that is not found in English.

COVID-19 Revealation

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the students are prohibited to go inside the school building.  The students are only given lesson modules to be studied and answered at home.

Both the teachers and students do not know that the educational system is now truly bilingual.  The teachers know only the English language and the pupils know only the Binisayâ.

The teachers made the lesson modules thinking that their English grammar is the same as the Bisayan grammar.  However, at Grade 4 and Grade 5 levels the pupils could not yet grasp the English grammar because they are still wired in the Bisayan grammar.  There ought to be coordination of languages but we were stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

An Example

A social media posting reveals the variance of the English-wired brain of the teacher and the Binisayâ-wired brain of the students.

Question: Write these words in alphabetical order.

  1. take     Ans: aekt

value   Ans: aeluv

use      Ans: esu

royal   Ans: alory

If you are wired in the Bisayan language the answers of the student is correct.  However, those who are wired in English expected the alphabetical order as: royal, take, use, and value.

The teacher do not know that in Binisayâ the meaning is in the intention.  The question lacks precision to convey the intention in English but if you will translate to Binisayâ, it will mean that the letters in each word will be alphabetize.

I am glad that my arguments since the planning of MTB-MLE since 2009 turns out to be correct.

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