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The Writing Of Esl Materials For The Filipino College Freshman

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Carolina A. Nufiez


When the Secretary of Education

revealed last July that according to a study,

"20% of the country's high school students

do not know how to write and speak well

in English," (Contreras 1998), several

columnists and letter writers to the editOr

offered various analyses and solutions (de

Quiros 1998; Cunanan-Olivares 1998).

Some of the writers anticipated a bleak

future for those students and for the

Journal of English Studies and Compararive Literature

Vol.6 No. I January-March 2000

Page 2

182 1' linkhtin and the Writing of ESL Materials

country as a whole. In their view, the inability to communicate in

written and spoken English is a serious disadvantage in an era

when English has become the international language of business,

science and technology, three areas that have compressed the world

into a global village. Several of the columnists put the blame squarely

on the quality of English language teaching or ELT in the country

(e.g., de Quiros; Cunanan). De Quiros even urged the shift from

preSumabiy the "traditional" method to the teaching of English as

a second language. Another writer called for the run of the drills

and more drills in the language classroom to address the perceived

"deterioration" in English (Stuart-Santiago 1998)

These comments have put English teachers on the spot,

coming as they do from lay persons, people who are neither

language teachers nor linguists. In fact, English teachers themselves,

together with other college faculty, have been in anguish over the

state of English language proficiency among incoming freshmen

and have been trying various techniques to remedy the situation.

And yet, human resources personnel in business and government

also complain about the poor English communication skills of college

graduates. One may note the proliferation of so-called speech or

language centers in Metro Manila offering intensive courses in

English as an indication of a growing market of people desperate

to improve their English outside of the regular classrooms. Where

then does the problem lie? If, as De Quiros and company pointed

out, the "culprit" is language teaching methodology, then an analysis

of classroom teaching practices should be undertaken so that

appropriate measures could be implemented. However, these

practices are also determined by the kind of instructional materials

or textbooks used, coupled with the teachers' beliefs about the

nature of language teaching.

What makes language teachers sit up and take notice are


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