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.