English Language Education in the Philippines: Policies, Problems, and Prospects

Part of the Language Policy book series (LAPO, volume 11)


The integration of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, as well as the United Nation’s call for Education for All (EFA) by 2015, has pushed the Philippine government to revamp the country’s educational system. Such revamp involves a review of the effectiveness of English language education (ELE) in the country, which may be described as currently at a crossroads, as stakeholders strive to address issues of developing the English language competencies of Filipino students on the one hand, and the strengthening of academic achievement on the other. ELE in the Philippines, which began during the American colonial period in the nineteenth century, has been found wanting in significantly contributing to increased learning outcomes among Filipino students. ELE policies have been beset with issues of alignment and coherence in the areas of curriculum and assessment, as well as challenges in the implementation of genuine reform. In addition, ELE has been implemented at the expense of literacy in the mother tongues. This chapter provides an overview of how ELE in the Philippines is evolving – learning from past mistakes and preparing for the future. The chapter is divided into five major parts, namely, (1) overview of the Philippine educational system; (2) ELE from the American colonial period to Martial Law; (3) Bilingual education and educational reforms from 1974 to 2010; (4) Mother-tongue based multilingual education (MTBMLE) and the K to 12 reform; and (5) prospects and possibilities for ELE in the Philippines. In this chapter, we make a case for Philippine ELE that strives to address the demands of the international community, but also upholds local culture through the use of the mother tongues.


English language education Philippine language policy English in the Philippines 



ASEAN Economic Community


ASEAN Framework of Reference for English Proficiency


Association of South East Asian Nations


Basic Education Curriculum


Bilingual Education Policy


Basic Education Sector Reform Agenda


Business Process Outsourcing


Common European Framework of Reference


Commission on Higher Education


Department of Education


Enhanced Basic Education Program


Congressional Commission on Education


Education for All


English Language Education


English Language Teaching


Executive Order


Higher Education Institution


House Bill


Kindergarten to 12th Grade


First Language


Second Language


Third Language


Millennium Development Goals


Memorandum Order


Medium of Instruction


Mother-Tongue Based Multilingual Education


National Achievement Test


Overseas Filipino Workers


Presidential Commission for Educational Reform


Presidential Commission to Survey Philippine Education


Philippine Qualifications Framework


Technical Education and Skills Development Authority


Understanding by Design


  1. 8th ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting. (2014). Joint statement. Retrieved February 5, 2015 from
  2. Bautista, M. B. (1996). An outline: The national language and the language of instruction. In M. L. Bautista (Ed.), Readings in Philippine sociolinguistics (pp. 223–227). Manila, Philippines: DLSU Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bautista, M. C., Bernardo, A., & Ocampo, D. (2008/2009). When reforms don’t transform: reflections on institutional reforms in the Department of Education. Retrieved from
  4. Bernardo, A. (1998). Literacy and the mind. Paris: UNESCO Institute of Education.Google Scholar
  5. Bureau of Education. (1908). 8th annual report of the director of education, June 1, 1907 to June 30, 1908. Manila, Philippines: Bureau of Printing.Google Scholar
  6. Bureau of Education. (1927). 1927 service manual of the Bureau of Education. Manila, Philippines: Bureau of Printing.Google Scholar
  7. Bureau of Public Schools. (1954). Report of the general superintendent for education for the Philippine Islands for the period September 1, 1902 to September 30, 1903. In Annual school reports 1901–1903. Manila, Philippines: Bureau of Printing.Google Scholar
  8. Canagarajah, A. S. (Ed.). (2005). Reclaiming the local in language policy and practice. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.Google Scholar
  9. Dekker, D. (2010). What is mother-tongue based multilingual education? In Nolasco, Ricardo Ma. Duran, et al. (Eds.), Starting where the children are (pp. 23–25). Quezon City: 170+ Talaytayan MLE Inc.Google Scholar
  10. Dekker, G., & Dekker, D. (2008, February 2). The ‘first language’ bridge to Filipino. Philippine Daily Inquirer.Google Scholar
  11. Department of Education. (2012). NAT overview and 2012 test results. Retrieved February 18, 2014 from
  12. DepEd Discussion Paper. (2010, October 5). Discussion paper on the enhanced K+12 basic education program. Retrieved from
  13. Dumatog, R., & Dekker, D. (2003). First language education in Lubuagan, Northern Philippines. Retrieved from
  14. Espina, M. (2015, June 27). BPO revenues to overtake OFW remittances in 2017-IT expert. Retrieved from
  15. Gonzalez, A. (1990). Evaluating bilingual education in the Philippines. In M. A. K. Halliday, J. Gibbons, & H. Nicholas (Eds.), Learning, keeping and using language (Vol. 2). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  16. Gonzalez, A. (1998). The language planning situation in the Philippines. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 19(5/6), 487–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gonzalez, A. (1999). Philippine bilingual education revisited. In M. L. S. Bautista & G. Tan (Eds.), The Filipino bilingual: A multidisciplinary perspective – Festschrift in honor of Emy M. Pascasio. Manila, Philippines: Linguistic Society of the Philippines.Google Scholar
  18. Gonzalez, A. (2003). Language planning in multilingual countries: The case of the Philippines. Manila, Philippines: Andrew Gonzalez. Retrieved from
  19. Guiningundo, M. (2013). A privilege speech by the honorable representative Mangtanngol T. Guiningundo I in commemoration of Buwan ng Wika. Retrieved from
  20. Hodal, K. (2012, September 18). English training targets ASEAN’s link language. The Guardian. Retrieved from
  21. ICEF Monitor. (2012). Opportunities await foreign education educational providers as Thailand prepares for ASEAN community. Retrieved from
  22. Intawong, P., & Lertromyanant, W. (n.d.). English and educational preparation for 2015 AEC. Retrieved from
  23. Licuanan, P. (2007). Language and learning. Paper presented during the CEO Forum. Retrieved from
  24. Magtulis, P. (2013, February 16). $21.391 B for 2012: OFW inflows hit new high. Retrieved from
  25. Martin, I. P. (2005). Conflicts and implications in Philippine education: Implications for ELT. In D. T. Dayag & J. S. Quakenbush (Eds.), Linguistics and language education in the Philippines and beyond. Manila, Philippines: Linguistic Society of the Philippines.Google Scholar
  26. Martin, I. P. (2008). Colonial education and the shaping of Philippine literature in English. In M. L. Bautista & K. Bolton (Eds.), Philippine English: Linguistic and literary perspectives. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Mindo, D. (2002). The development of English in the Philippines. Marikina, Luzon: J.C. Palabay Enterprises.Google Scholar
  28. Minh, L. (2014). Message at the ASEAN business forum, 14 November 2014. Retrieved February 5, 2015 from
  29. Nolasco, R., Datar, F., & Azurin, A. (2010). Starting where the children are: A collection of essays on mother-tongue based multilingual education and language issues in the Philippines. Quezon City: 170+ Talaytayan MLE Inc.Google Scholar
  30. O’Connor, K. (2009). How to grade for learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.Google Scholar
  31. Plata, S. (2007). Exploring assessment reform policy and implementation in Philippine public schools. Philippine Journal of Linguistics, 38(1–2), 135–156.Google Scholar
  32. Plata, S. (2010). Standards and assessment in the 2010 English curriculum for high school: A Philippine case study. Philippine ESL Journal, 5, 83–101.Google Scholar
  33. Plata, S. (2013). Standard-based assessment and grading in K to 12 education in the Philippines. Philippine Journal of Language Teaching, 53, 6–16.Google Scholar
  34. Quezon III, M. (2007, April 26). Misplaced emphasis on English. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved from
  35. Sibayan, B. (1999). Difficult tasks in teaching Filipino children in two or three languages: Some suggested solutions. In M. L. S. Bautista & G. Tan (Eds.), The Filipino bilingual: A multidisciplinary perspective – Festschrift in honor of Emy M. Pascasio. Manila, Philippines: Linguistic Society of the Philippines.Google Scholar
  36. Tayao, L. (2005). A postscript to teacher education. In D. T. Dayag & J. S. Quakenbush (Eds.), Linguistics and language education in the Philippines and beyond. Manila, Philippines: Linguistic Society of the Philippines.Google Scholar
  37. Thomas, D. (2013, January 31). International enrolments up to 14% in the Philippines. The Pie News. Retrieved from
  38. UNESCO-Philippine Educational Foundation. (1953). Fifty years of education for freedom: 1901–1951. Manila, Philippines: National Printing Co., Inc.Google Scholar
  39. Walter, S. & Dekker, D. (2008). The Lubuagan mother tongue education experiment (FLC), a report of comparative test results. Retrieved from
  40. Waters, A., & Vilches, M. L. C. (2008). Factors affecting ELT reforms: The case of the Philippines basic education curriculum. RELC Journal, 39(1), 5–24. doi: 10.1177/003368820809113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Whaley, F. (2012, August 27). A youthful populace helps make the Philippines an economic bright spot in Asia. New York Times. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Santo TomasManilaPhilippines
  2. 2.Ateneo de Manila UniversityQuezon CityPhilippines
  3. 3.De La Salle UniversityManilaPhilippines

Personalised recommendations