10. The grip of English and Philippine language policy

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The grip of English in the Philippines signifies an enduring and flawed image of national development that is monocentric with an English-dominant core. It traces the trajectory of this dominance of English in the Philippines from its introduction as the de facto medium of instruction in the public school system during the American colonial era to its incorporation as the indispensable competitive edge of Filipinos in the current era of globalization. This privileged position of English in the country’s linguistic economy has been reinforced by the Filipino elite’s symbolic struggles over power in the wake of post-colonialism and the country’s structural insertion at the margins of the global economy as a source of cheap, English-speaking migrant labor. The grip of English in the country may be mitigated by the introduction of mother tongue based multilingual education (MTBLE). The framework of MTBLE appears to conceive of national development in terms of widening access to valuable material and symbolic resources such as literacy and higher levels of formal education. As the MTBLE is still in its infancy, the extent to which it can live up to its promise remains to be seen.


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