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Or why students can’t read

The problem with Grade 1 learning materials

05:01 AM August 14, 2019

There’s a reading crisis in the public elementary and high schools as claimed by educators and opinion writers in the Inquirer’s past issues.

The dismal situation is caused by the following:

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1) The Department of Education’s (DepEd’s) development teams ignored special considerations for second language teaching of reading in the preparation of Grade 1 English learning materials.

2) English, formerly a whole-year subject, is now a half-year subject and, to borrow court parlance, the most guilty act.

3) The English Learner’s Material and English Activity Sheets Quarters 3 and 4 currently used.

Readiness is especially important for children who are learning to read in a second language. The child has to understand every word orally before he reads it. Materials in question are sadly wanting of exercises that make the child master orally new sounds in English, simple sentence patterns and a variety of vocabulary before he begins to read.

Moreover, they lack exercises to equip learners with physical skills needed in reading, like looking from left to right, top to bottom, or eye-to-hand coordination. Neither are found exercises that develop visual and auditory skills and listening comprehension skills that learners must acquire before they can begin to read.

Yet, students are pushed to read directions, sentences and phrases soon after school has opened. How absurd! As if the absurdity is not enough, materials aim to teach grammar, like knowing a sentence from a phrase, a telling sentence from an asking sentence, and nouns as name words. In Grade 1,the primacy of fluency over grammar accuracy is a second language principle.

Lessons are not presented from easy to hard. Redundancy as an aid to memory is not considered. Questions are asked at random when the concept of who, what, when, where, why questions have not been learned one at a time. Difficult vocabulary loads like “biodegradable,” “overtake,” “leave-taking,” “squirted,” “barracudas” and more are rammed into students’ unwilling throats. Stories are not within children’s experiences and with high information content.

Illustrations are unclear and unattractive. The materials’ titles are very revealing of their inappropriateness. Activity sheets! What for if listening-speaking activities are the core of the pre-reading stage? Materials are not skills-oriented from cover to cover. They are useless.

Learners, therefore, are not started right. They fail to experience success at a time when they need it most, to spur in them the love and desire to read. Instead, they experience frustration and failure, and a resulting dislike for reading. As long as the three Grade 1 learning materials are in use, students can’t read, and the reading crisis will be unabated.

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LUVIMINA V. CALUPIG
Former DepEd Division Supervisor of English, Ilocos Norte

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TAGS: DepEd, Grade 1 learning materials, Inquirer letters, Luvimina V. Calupig, Reading
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