Reflections of a Filipino Community
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 schools run by religious
orders (Jesuits, Dominican, 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
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 elder, 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.