English in the K-12 reform of the Philippines

Lorente, Beatriz; Tupas, T.R.F. (July 2017). English in the K-12 reform of the Philippines (Unpublished). In: 15th International Pragmatics Conference. Belfast, Ireland.

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This paper aims to show how deep-rooted ideologies regarding the value of English and the structural conditions created by neoliberalization may threaten the legitimacy and sustainability of educational reforms. This paper focuses on the K-12 reform that was recently introduced in the Philippines. The K-12 reform is considered to be the most comprehensive reform of the Philippine education system. It was signed into law as the “Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2014” and is currently in the early stages of implementation. Aimed at raising national competitiveness and promoting closer ties between educational training and the labor market, the reform introduces an additional two years of senior high school (11th grade and 12th grade), thus increasing the number of years of basic education in the Philippines from 10 years to 12 years. Furthermore, the reform institutionalizes mother tongue based multilingual education (MTBMLE) with mother tongues being used as the primary languages of instruction in the first three years of primary schools. It also mandates that secondary school education students specialize in three tracks – academic, technical-vocational-livelihood and sports and the arts – with the aim of ensuring the readiness of high school graduates for further education or employment. This paper discusses how the K-12 reform discursively positions English which continues to be a medium of instruction in this enhanced basic education system. The paper argues that the K-12 reform may have further entrenched or strengthened the “grip of English” (Lorente 2013) in the country even as it has raised the status of the mother tongues. By continuing to position English as a basic skill that all students should have in order to be easily employable and competitive and by mandating that high school students take specialized English courses depending on their streams, the K-12 reform risks exacerbating the differential distribution of English in a hierarchy of Filipino works while also contributing to creation of new inequalities between multilingualisms (Tupas 2015).

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures > Modern English Linguistics

UniBE Contributor:

Lorente, Beatriz


800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism > 820 English & Old English literatures
400 Language > 420 English & Old English languages
400 Language > 410 Linguistics




Beatriz Lorente

Date Deposited:

10 Apr 2018 08:33

Last Modified:

06 Aug 2021 14:45



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