2,500 cringeworthy English in DepEd’s Grades 8, 7 learning materials

Jose A. Carillo

Jose A. Carillo

In mid-August, I received two impassioned commentaries about English misuse that I believe should be known by all Filipinos who care about the quality of primary education in the Philippines. In those commentaries, Mr. Antonio Calipjo Go, the indefatigable crusader against badly written English-language textbooks, blew the whistle on the Grade 8 and Grade 7 learning materials published recently by the Department of Education for having, altogether, almost 2,500 grammatically, semantically, or logically flawed English passages.

Mr. Go said in the first commentary: “I have finished reviewing the 582-page learning material entitled ‘Voyages in Communication,’ which was written by 14 authors, reviewed by four reviewers, and published by the DepEd itself for the use of the Grade 8 students in public secondary schools. I have recorded a total of 1,836 defects, deficiencies, infirmities and errors in that learning material, making it hands down the worst learning material I have seen in my entire career.”

In the second commentary, Mr. Go said he looked into DepEd’s “Learning Package for Grade 7 English, First and Second Quarter” on request by a group of concerned public-school teachers. His finding: A total of 658 errors from just 172 pages, with the module’s third and fourth quarter components still to be written.

My understanding is that to get the DepEd to rectify the flawed passages, Mr. Go sent his critiques along with 59 samples from the Grade 8 material and 58 from the Grade 7 material to the editor of a leading Metro Manila newspaper. The bad-English passages being so voluminous, however, that newspaper understandably found space only for the covering letters and not for the 117 sample passages themselves. He then decided to send them to me with the request that they be posted in Jose Carillo’s English Forum.

His lament about this state of affairs: “It breaks my heart to realize that now, in the evening of my life, my advocacy had not chipped even one fang of the monster that is the Defective Textbook, that a bureaucracy as abundantly and profusely blessed in everything as the DepEd is—with money, grants, funding, resources, and a vast army of hired and paid personnel—cannot come up even with just one sensible textbook.”

To see where Mr. Go is coming from, here are seven verbatim samples of flawed passages from the Grade 8 material: (1) “For Kopag’s father, any creature with a hole could be entered. He forced his wife to have sex with him. His body began to crave the body of another to feast upon.” (2) “If the heart flies, it must have wings on its own.

The heart literary flies.” (3) “English idiomatic expressions are Greek in origin.” (4) “Cemetery is the antonym of pharmacy.” (5) “56% of everyone jailed in America today is due to drug charges.” (6) “Our people are suffering like no hell on earth.” (7) “Write smaller paragraphs. The smaller the paragraph the easier to read. More people read only smaller articles.”

And here are seven verbatim flawed samples from the Grade 7 module: (1) “The centipede is a reptile with a carapace.” (2) “Verbs have features or complements to determine how many other words would follow.” (3) “The village pumps out everything from pistols to anti-aircraft weaponry.” (4) “Far across the sea was a city so great that to look at its many people would injure the eyes of men.” (5) “As the night grows younger, the breeze becomes colder.” (6) “I just bend my knees to withstand the buffet of the winds.” (7) “Are all statements a form of verbal irony?”

To better feel the gravity of the problem, read all 59 samples of the flawed Grade 8 passages in “A Mind-Numbing Torrent of Cringeworthy English” (http://tinyurl.com/kct46r6), and all 58 samples of the flawed Grade 7 passages in “When Textbook English Gets Stuck in Reverse” (http://tinyurl.com/mdtydce).

Visit Jose Carillo’s English Forum at http://josecarilloforum.com. Follow me at Twitter.com @J8Carillo.



Please follow our commenting guidelines.


  1. Regardless of where this cancer started, it will not be cured by headings such as “One Response to 2,500 cringeworthy English in DepEd’s Grades 8, 7 learning materials”.

    2,500 cringeworthy English what? one may well ask. And why the odd mixture of caps and lower case initial letters? And why “8, 7” instead of the logical “7, 8”?

    • Here you are again obsessively nitpicking and muddling a major issue with trivialities. Aren’t you the same notorious Australian flamer who was banned from Jose Carillo’s English Forum three years ago for assuming so many usernames, both male and female, so you could together gang up on Forum members who dared to disagree with your self-serving ex cathedra pronouncements on English grammar and orthography like the ones you’re foisting above now? Aren’t you the same guy who once gleefully bragged that the op-ed pages of several Australian broadsheets had decided to ban you for daring to show to the world that their writers were hopelessly incompetent in their English usage? If you are, then I wouldn’t waste my time engaging you in any discussion on anything. Stay in your neck of the woods Down Under. Your comments are not welcome in my column and I made this clear to the editors of The Manila Times a week ago.

  2. How sad. I think this cancer started with our politicians. Are we now raising incompetent children. “What will the future be? I wonder?” from the Movie Sound of Music.

  3. On the observations of Mr Go:The English language does not have a parallel speaking and writing systems; words are never spoken as written even as certain sounds (schwa, sibilants, voicing, etc., really are not part of the spoken English in PH).Spoken language and writing systems of PH languages are parallel; spoken as written and written as spoken; no running down in speech. Noun-vowels clustering is a characteristic feature of the spoken dialects and languages and its written form, and putting this down in its written form is a big challenge in itself, as the QWERTY board is not friendly or ill suited to attendant thought processes, e.g., “nag-hirap” denotes a past action, while “nag-hihirap is a present continuing condition and entirely different from “maghihirap” of a future situation. The languages that developed in PH are a reflection of every day life and the influences of environment and experiences. Have you even noticed how many degrees of ripeness we have in the PH lexicon and really tell the differences in “manibalang, mala-sebo from hinog, or maligat from malata”,etc.. Like the Navajo Indians, who are inclined to use action words in their thinking processes, the sheer lack of “near equivalent” or knowledge about an object or personal experience often results to those “cringe worthy” written forms that make you shudder in disbelief. Certainly enjoyed, the “buffet” of your ‘smorgasbord.” with your pointed observations. Sammy’63..