The English language, which is the closest thing to a lingua franca around the world, is another means for us to join the stream of world culture. This is where English proficiency becomes vital in today’s world and country. English proficiency is the ability to speak, read and/or write in English.
In Philippine education system, high school students with ages ranging from 12 to 17 are expected to have already basic knowledge of English and the four communication skills which will enable them to function satisfactorily in certain English communication situations. The basic goal of high school English is to enhance the students’ knowledge and skills so that they can function effectively in any situation which requires the use of English particularly in a classroom setting that challenges their academic performance . They need to be able to express their ideas and opinions in speech and in writing. They need to think independently, critically, and creatively. Hence, they should be given opportunities to enhance higher order thinking skills like analysis and evaluation (Proficiency in English 1, 2010).
In the secondary English curriculum, it aims to address the communication needs of Filipino students for English, which is emerging as the international lingua franca. These communication needs are interpersonal, informative and aesthetics. In consonance with the government’s thrusts and globalization, this English curriculum adopts a communicative-interactive-collaborative approach to learning as well as reflection and introspection with the aim in view of developing autonomous language learners aware of and able to cope with global trends.
As secondary English teachers, we can see how essential it is for the Filipino students to become proficient in English language both in written and oral. Aside from being the medium of instruction in the Philippines, learning the English language also provides the Filipino people with all the advantages that champions of English say – it does access to the vast fund of culture expressed in it, mobility in various spheres of the international scene, especially those dominated by the English speaking people, participation in a quality of modern life of which some features may be assimilated by us with great advantage.
Knowledge in foreign language such as English will allow us to participate in intellectual discourses during engagement in social, political and economic issues in a wider global and scientific community. As we communicate our thoughts and understand others, we can further develop our potentials and enhance our capacity in learning life skills, as well as cognitive and affective competencies required of us to connect to the world (Luistro, 2011).
To realize English proficiency among the students, they should take some advice under the four (4) learning skills which are reading, listening, speaking and writing. The most important thing that they should bear in mind is that reading and listening are inputs whereas speaking and writing are outputs.
Since English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, gaining English proficiency can be an important aspect of education in many fields from business to aviation to science. Another aspect of attaining the goal of English proficiency is speaking or using it regularly.
Improving the proficiency in English language is something that somebody could work on the entirety of his/her life. The best way to improve the person’s proficiency is to make sure the foundation and understanding in all grammar concepts is more or less secure and then to work on using the language as much as possible. The more proficient someone’s English is the more doors that can open for his/her career and life.
While it is possible to increase proficiency in English through other means, taking formal classes can accelerate learning. Classes can help increase motivation and keep the student on a normal schedule of study which is important for learning any language.
These realities will be faced by the students later on especially after their college graduation. Therefore we need to prepare our students to become ready and independent in facing the world of competition. They should instill in their minds the value of English proficiency especially when they immerse in the wider professional community.
Unfortunately, apart from the lack of job opportunities in the country, what is more disheartening is that most of our graduates do not qualify. Simply stated most of these graduates particularly the ones coming from the provinces and the ones coning from low-quality schools in the metropolis have a weak command of the English language, poor analytical and thinking skills. Furthermore, they cannot effectively communicate their observations and reflections. In other words, they are not competent. They do not possess the qualification and proficiency to meet the standards of employment (www.philstar.com/article, 2009).
What are companies looking for in an applicant? Today where technology is as important as having excellent communication skill, companies are looking for people who are attuned to the times, can communicate well their ideas, can discuss issues, problems, and concerns in detail (Soliven-De Guzman, 2011).
Once you have graduated from college, you are expected to have learned the basic skills. It is sad, but nowadays employers end up going back to teaching the ABC’s of communication. Shouldn’t these have already ingrained in all our students early on? Where did we go wrong here?
This fact causes a significant decline in English proficiency in the Philippines particuarly in Magpet National High School. For almost sixteen (16) years of being an English teacher in the school, it was observed that the deteriorating English proficiency of the students – even those fourth year students – are still the predicament of the teachers. Hence, this study was conceived to look for the possible factors that affect the English proficiency in relation to the academic performance of the Fourth Year students in Magpet National High School.
Statement of the Problem
This study aimed to identify the factors affecting the English proficiency in relation to the academic performance of fourth year students in Magpet National High School.
Specifically, the study sought to answer the following questions: 1. What is the socio-economic profile of the fourth year students in Magpet National High School when analyze by: 1.1 Gender
1.4 Parents’ Educational Attainment
1.5 Parent’s Occupation
1.6 Sources of Family Income
1.7 Annual Family Gross Income
1.8 Allowance Received Per Day
1.9 Number of Members in the Family
2. What are the factors affecting the English proficiency of fourth year students in Magpet National High School when analyze in terms of: 2.1 Personal – Related
2.2 Family – Related
2.3 School – Related
2.4 Community – Related
3. What are the levels of English proficiency of the fourth year students in Magpet National High School?
4. What are the levels of the different factors affecting the English proficiency of fourth year students in Magpet National High School?
5. Is there a significant relationship between the different factors affecting the English proficiency and the academic performance of fourth year students in Magpet National High School?
Objectives of the Study
This study aimed to identify the factors affecting the English proficiency in relation to the academic performance of fourth year students in Magpet National High School.
Specifically, the objectives of the study are the following: 1. To know the socio-economic profile of fourth year students in Magpet National High School. 2. To determine the level of English proficiency of fourth year students in Magpet National High School. 3. To identify the factors affecting the English proficiency of fourth year students in Magpet National High School when analyzed in terms of personal, family, school , and community. 4. To distinguish the levels of the different factors affecting the English proficiency of fourth year students in Magpet National High School. 5. To identify the significant relationship between the different factors affecting the English proficiency in relation to the academic performance of fourth year students in Magpet National High School.
The following assumptions were the bases for the study:
1. There is a variation in the socio-economic profile of fourth year students in Magpet National High School. 2. There are factors affecting the English proficiency of fourth year students in Magpet National High School when analyzed in terms of personal, family, school and community. 3. The level of English proficiency performance of fourth year students in Magpet National High School is declining. 4. The levels of different factors affecting the English proficiency of fourth year students in Magpet National High School are realistic . 5. There exists a relationship between the factors affecting the English proficiency and the academic performance of fourth year students in Magpet National High School.
The following hypotheses were formulated:
1. There are significant factors affecting the English proficiency of the fourth year students in Magpet National High School. 2. There is a significant relationship between the different factors affecting the English proficiency and the academic performance of the fourth year students in Magpet National High School.
According to Professor J. Cummins, one of the world’s leading authorities on bilingual education and second language acquisition, there are distinctions between the two differing kinds of language proficiency. First, the BICS or Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills. These are the “surface” skills of listening and speaking which are typically acquired quickly by many students; particularly by those from language backgrounds similar to English who spend a lot of their school time interacting with native speakers.
Second is the CALP or Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency which suggests for a child’s ability to cope with the academic demands placed upon coming from various subjects. Cummins states that while many children develop fluency within two years of immersion in the target language, it takes 5-7 years for a child to be working on a level with native speakers as far as academic language is concerned.
Cummins believes that in the course of learning one language, a child acquires a set of skills and implicit metalinguistic knowledge that can be drawn upon when working in another language. This common underlying proficiency (CUP) provides the base for the development of both the first language (L1) and the second language (L2). It follows that any expansion of CUP that takes place in one language will have a beneficial effect on the other language(s).
This theory also serves to explain why it becomes easier and easier to learn additional languages. As Cummins (2000) states: “Conceptual knowledge developed in one language helps to make input in the other language comprehensible.” If a child already understands the concepts of “justice” or “honesty” in her own language, all she has to do is acquire the label for these terms in English.
She has a far more difficult task, however, if she has to acquire both the label and the concept in her second language According to Jean Piaget, proficiency in certain skills, including language skills, depends on a combination of developmental readiness, social interaction and the student’s own interpretations. His experiments have been implemented with adults as well as children, and educators have applied many of his theories in the realm of language learning. Hence, many ESL classrooms have discussion groups, pair work interactions and class presentations. Many ESL instructors rely heavily on these peer-to-peer interactions because students are more likely to experiment with each other than they are with the instructor. Conceptual Framework
How imperative it is to make English part of people’s lives. The need to learn and master the English language is recognized by other countries as well. No one desires to be left behind simply for lacking the English proficiency. Philippine education does not take this need for granted. This view is supported by former President Arroyo’s promulgation on May 17, 2003 of Executive Order No. 210 entitled Establishing the Policy to Strengthen English as a Second Language in the Educational System.
Positive views towards mastery of the English language should lead to favorable self-identity changes. One of these shifts is the early encounter of the students on English proficiency. What better consequences can we expect to hear our students conclude, after being proficient in English, that they have become more sensitive to changes in the outside world and that they have more understanding now and can better communicate using the English language (Mojica, 2009).
It is widely accepted by educationalists and linguists that many Filipino children begin formal schooling with zero English proficiency. Studies have shown that the struggle to English proficiency is primarily caused through the lack of supportive home, peer group and community environment as well as formative language-based opportunities. These deficiencies impact not only on their ability to learn the English language but also deprive them of personal empowerment and a capacity to facilitate verbal and written communication thus affected their academic performance.
Modern wisdom advocates that classrooms and school communities should become the learner’s missing ‘supportive’ environments and that teachers are best positioned to respond to English language deficiency. While it is accepted that learners may come from unsupportive environments and be disadvantaged, teachers can make the difference and readily reverse the negative resulting from such environments (Study and Teaching, 2009).
Much depends on the awareness, discernment and response of teachers at the coalface – in the classroom, from the environment, as well as of those in support-service roles. Moreover, much depends on the ability of a school system to create an alternative, positive supportive environment that addresses the deficiencies brought by the learner into the classroom. To achieve this ‘environmental shift’, teachers need to recognize the importance of English proficiency. The English language programs taught must take into account the difficulties inherent in a teacher’s language of instruction from the learner’s aspect be it spoken or written, appreciating the learner’s often misunderstood that English language is just a ‘teacher language’.
To achieve these outcomes, learners need to be exposed to a range of English language skill varieties and encouraged to use them. They need opportunities to experience with different English proficiency genres and registers in both oral and written codes. In implementing the above strategies, teachers should acknowledge the effect English language may have on their students especially those who come from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds (Studyard Teaching, 2009)
While there is a plethora of teaching methods and approaches from which teachers may choose, there are some considerations to be looked into and these are the factors which influence the student’s academic performance in their English proficiency. Gender can influence while teaching resources are applied in the learning process and can even affect the physical layout and seating arrangement of a teaching environment. A simple factor such as age can determine the ‘sophistication’ of the teaching methodology adopted especially when members of a teaching group vary greatly in age and maturity. Learners of English who come from different cultures often have to contend with learner-related issues that primary English speakers never have to think about.
Beginning with English sounds that do not exist in their native language and English words and concepts for which there is no native language equivalent, to particular religious inhibitions, teachers who carry the responsibility of teaching English to speakers of other languages must be totally ‘culturally conscious’ – even to the point of ‘researching’ ethnic diversity and difference if they are to perform their task professionally and successfully. The specific language needs of each individual learner are of paramount importance in the planning of any English course, thus the selection of the teaching method to be used.
The availability or lack of technology and tools will immediately decide whether many appropriate and proven e-learning programs can be used by both teachers and learners alike. The absence of computers, audio systems, CD players and more advanced equipment such as LCD-power point projectors can lower the quality of teaching outcomes and can hinder accelerated learning. The social and economic status plays a great role also in providing the needs of the learners. Some students are deprived with technological advances that will help them improve their English proficiency (Keith W. Wright, 2010).
One of the most important aspects of gaining proficiency in any language is speaking it regularly. For students, the appropriate venue for them to use the language is inside the classroom where they feel the freedom and need to say it. Self-study can improve reading and comprehension skills, but interacting with other English speakers is essential for boosting real world comprehension and practical use of the English language.
The community where the students grow and feel the belongingness has a great factor in shaping them as well. Their performance in the school can also be influenced by their peers and the kind of environment they are raised. The prevailing fad of computer games and internet could rob the child of the time to study his lessons /Sunstar, 2005/.
As seen in Figure 1, there are factors affecting the English proficiency of fourth year students. The independent variables consist of the factors such as personal-related, family-related, school-related, and community-related. The dependent variable is the academic performance of fourth year students based on their English proficiency.
Figure 1: Schematic diagram showing the relationship of the variables under study.
Scope and Limitation of the Study
This study confined its research to the fourth year students of Magpet National High School enrolled in School Year 2013-2014. The researcher chose them as the respondents in her study because of her desire to identify the factors that affect the English proficiency of the fourth year students and how these factors affect their academic performance.
This study was limited to the factors affecting the English proficiency in relation to the academic performance of fourth year students in Magpet National High School. The respondents are to be evaluated through their socio-economic profile such as their gender, age, religion, parents’ educational attainment, parents’ occupation, family income, allowance per day, and number of members in the household. Other factors are to be considered also such as personal-related, family-related, school-related and community-related.
Significance of the Study
The study is significant to both teachers and students on the following reasons: 1. It determines the students’ progress in all fields of learning which use English as medium of instruction. 2. It helps the students to gain proficiency in English particularly in their communicative competence. 3. It ascertains the factors to consider as contributory to students’ English proficiency. 4. It helps to assess the students’ academic performance as reflected in their achievement and participation.
Definition of Terms
The following terms are being defined to give the readers further clarity and understanding on this study. 1. English –It refers to the second language used in the Philippines and as a medium of instruction in Philippine education.
2. English Proficiency – It is the ability of the fourth year students in Magpet National High School to speak, read and/or write in English. To be considered truly proficient, one should have advanced abilities in all skills of communication (http://wiki.answers.com., 2011). 3. Language – It refers to the English words used by the respondents both in oral and written communication.
4. Respondents – It refers to the fourth year students in Magpet National High School who are officially enrolled in academic year 2013-2014. 5. Factors – It is about the facts or circumstances which constitute a result or situation. It refers to something that contributes to the performance of the fourth year students in MNHS based on their English proficiency. 6. Teachers – The academically qualified individuals assigned to teach and handle the fourth year students of MNHS specifically those who are teaching subjects using English as the medium of instruction.