Reflections of a Filipino Community Member

1) Are there any significant differences in the educational system of your country of origin and the U.S. that would affect teaching an English language learner? What challenges would these pose both for teachers and students? Are there any advantages of coming from that educational system for your people? Which ones?
The United States established the Philippine educational system when it became its colony from 1899-1946. Therefore the two countries’ educational systems are very similar. Also, we have a lot of private schoold run by religious orders (Jesuits, Domincan, La Sallites, Sacred Heart, and more). We use English as the medium of instruction. However, currently, students coming from the Philippines are treated as if they are not English speaking and are from a different educational system. Therefore, they are assigned to lower grade levels. The school administration must address the need to facilitate proper placement. Also, support groups from peers can shorten the period of adjustment. Due to the cultural value of respect for elders, students tend not to question or ask questions from the teachers. If the teachers are made aware of the students’ status, this can facilitate adjustment to the class environment.

2) Are there any cultural differences/tendencies that teachers need to keep in consideration (that they MAY encounter) when teaching people from your cultural group?
Yes. Parents trust the teachers to take care of their children as they would. Unfortunately, this contributes to non-involvement unless the school really establishes a link with the community by informing them of what they could do for the school. They need them as partners. Even though the U.S. established the Philippine educational system, Parents who finished their education in the Philippines generally do not know the college requirements. Therefore, the teachers and counselors can help the students by informing the parents of the requirements. This would bring in parental/home support for the students, contributing to better performance and preparation for college. Education is one of the cultural values (respect for the edler, religion, and family are also central) of Filipino culture. Filipinos are relational, which is opposite to the individualistic way of life here in the U.S. We maintain close family ties.

3) What are the major religions within your ethnic group?
Roman Catholic, other Protestant religions, Islam

4) Do you think religion has an impact/effect on the way people in your culture tend to learn?
Definitely, with religion as an important value of our culture, a lot of religious practices and gatherings contribute to family cohesiveness which is critical in developing a sense of belonging, respect for self and others which I consider important for the students to have as learners.

5) What factors in the home or family relationships are critical for a teacher to know?
All of the above

6) How do the circumstances of emigration, being a refugee as opposed to leaving by choice, impact the needs of the students and influence instruction?
This does not apply to the Filipinos who have been in the U.S. since the 16th century with the Manila Galleon trade. For those who followed as immigrants, they come here by choice (See #1).

7) Are there any other issues that are important for teachers to understand that we have not identified? Please elaborate.

Culturally sensitive teachers make a difference in the students’ learning. An attitude of respect and willingness to learn and to integrate the students’ culture (Lacking in our educational materials) as part of their subjects can contribute to accepting differences and finding commonalities. It is critical that the teachers not just think of what they can teach the students, but what the teachers can learn from the students, that they are partners in learning. No culture is superior to another.