MOTHER Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) is the government’s banner program for education as a salient part of the implementation of the K to 12 Basic Education Program. Its significance is underscored by the passing of Republic Act 10523, otherwise known as the “Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013.”
Under the MTB-MLE program, the learner’s mother tongue and additional languages are used in the classroom. Learners begin their education in the language they understand best - their mother tongue - and develop a strong foundation in their mother language before adding additional languages.
Research stresses the fact that children with a solid foundation in their mother tongue develop stronger literacy abilities in the school language. Their knowledge and skills transfer across languages. This bridge enables the learners to use both or all their languages for success in school and for lifelong learning.
In terms of cognitive development, the school activities will engage learners to move well beyond the basic wh-questions to cover all higher order thinking skills in Literacy 1 which they can transfer to the other languages once enough Filipino or English has been acquired to use these skills in thinking and articulating thoughts.
Currently, the DepEd uses 19 languages in MTB-MLE: Tagalog, Capampangan, Pangisinan, Iloko, Bikol, Ybanag, Sinugbuanong Binisaya, Hiligaynon, Waray, Bahasa Sug, Maguindanaoan, Maranao, Chavacano, Ivatan, Sambal, Akianon, Kinaray-a, Yakan and Sinurigaonon. The MTB-MLE is implemented in two modules: as learning or subject area and as medium of instruction.
As a subject, mother-tongue education focuses on the development of speaking, reading and writing from Grades 1 to 3 in the mother tongue. As a medium of instruction, the mother tongue is used in all learning areas from Kindergarten to Grade 3, except in the teaching of Filipino and English subjects.
With the end goal of making Filipino children lifelong learners in their Literacy 1 (MT), Literacy 2 (Filipino, the national language), and Literacy 3 (English, the global language) the learners are more thatn prepared to develop the competencies in the different learning areas. This will serve as their passport to enter and achieve well in the mainstream educational system and in the end, contribute productively to their community and to the larger society as well as Multilingual, Multiliterate, and Multi-Cultural Citizens of the country.
MTBMLE provides literacy because we only learn to read once. Learning to read in the Literacy 1 develops skills that transfer to reading any other languages. Comprehension in reading other languages only occurs after oral proficiency has developed such that vocabulary of the written Literacy 2 text is already part of the learners’ spoken vocabulary.
It also provides prior knowledge as it engages learners in a discussion of what is already familiar to them using the home language and culture enables better learning of the curriculum through integration and application of that knowledge into current knowledge schemes.
MTB-MLE also promotes cognitive development and higher order thinking skills (HOTS). Using the learners’ mother tongue provides a strong foundation by developing cognitive skills and comprehension of the academic content from day one. The knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values gained through the mother tongue better support learning of other languages and learning through other languages later.
As learners articulate their thoughts and expand ideas, both language and critical thinking are strengthened. MTBMLE cultivates critical thinking through talking about ideas in the familiar language.
MTBMLE also provides a strong bridge to listening, speaking, reading, and writing the L2s (L2, L3) of the classroom using sound educational principles for building fluency and confidence in using the other languages for lifelong learning.
Lastly, MTB-MLE aids confidence building and proficiency development for two or more languages along the following macro-skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing, and viewing) for both meaning and accuracy.