Mother Tongue versus English as a Second Language in Mathematical Word Problems: Implications to Language Policy Development in the Philippines

Implications to Language Policy Development in the Philippines

Keywords: mother tongue, English as a second language, mathematical word problems, language policy development, translanguaging


This study investigated the performance of 150 Tagalog and 131 Sinugbuanong Bisaya grade three pupils with regard to solving mathematical word problems written in their mother-tongue (L1) and in English as their second language (L2). The respondents were subjected to a validated teacher-made parallel tests based on the competencies stipulated in the first and second quarter mathematics curriculum guide of the Philippines. Results of which were compared and analyzed using two-tailed t-test. Findings show that the Tagalog pupils performed better in their mother-tongue over English as their second language. On the other hand, Sinugbuanong Bisaya pupils performed better in English as their second language over their mother-tongue. While results appear contradictory, contextual discussions offer valuable insights into the situation, allowing avenues for more exploration and investigations. As implication to language policy development, this study offers the use of translanguaging in content area instruction and assessment, specifically in the teaching and learning of mathematical problem solving

Author Biographies


Judy Cañero Bautista, Ph.D. is a fulltime faculty member of the Philippine Normal University, Manila, College of Graduate Studies and Teacher Education Research.  He currently holds the academic rank of Associate Professor in Reading and Literacy Education.  He recently held the position as Graduate Program Coordinator of the Arts and Languages Cluster and he is the former Head of the Center for Reading and Literacy in PNU. He is a professional lecturer, researcher, and a specialist in the field of literacy and language education, educational technology, teaching methodologies, curriculum development in English language arts, and in other fields related to pedagogy and instruction.  He earned his graduate degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Reading Education and Master of Arts in Teaching Reading from the Philippine Normal University, Manila, where he also obtained his Bachelor of Elementary Education with concentration in English Language Teaching and his Certificate of Specialization in Reading.  Cognizant to the demands of the changing times and educational landscapes, he recently made himself updated and took a short-term course on Teacher Education at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.  He is now a double registered or licensed professional teacher both recognized in the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand and in the Philippine Regulation Commission.


Prior to his post in the University, he had served as a teacher of English as a Second Language and a teacher of Afro-Asian History to Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, and Taiwanese students in an international school setting ranging from elementary to the secondary levels.  He has also served as an educator of Music, Arts, and Physical Education to Filipino students in the elementary level.  Subsequent to this, he moved to college teaching where he handled methodology and practical courses like the Teaching of Reading, Reading in the Content Areas, Reading for Power and Enjoyment, and Reading Practicum.  He has taught courses in Public Speaking, Grammar and Composition, Research Writing and English Enhancement Programs in the tertiary level, as well.  Several of his experiences from pre-service and in-service teaching include personal interaction with mainstream- and visually-challenged students, which led him to learn the most basic of the Braille system and some insights about visual impairment.  Currently, he handles professional education and research courses in PNU ranging from the undergraduate to the doctoral level.


He has been active in several researches and he has presented them to local and international academic conferences—the most recent of which are his research on “Exploring the Use of Bibliotherapy for Children Survivors of Disasters” which he co-authors with Dr. Guia Apostle from Stockton University in New Jersey, USA and on his research about “The Comprehension Processing of Elementary Teachers as ESL Readers of Multimodal Still Visuals” which he presented in the 47thAnnual International Visual Literacy Association Conference held in San Francisco, California, USA, and in the 53rd Regional Language Center’s International Conference in Singapore last March 12-14, 2018. Furthermore, he has served as one of the main researchers in one of the international collaborative researches in PNU, which involves faculties of education in Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.  Currently, Dr. Bautista serves as the Project Director of the national policy research, “A Foundational Framework for Exemplary Community-Based Literacy Programs and Engagement: Basis for Policy Development”.  This research, funded by the Literacy Coordinating Council of the Philippines, is geared to provide a framework for local government units to develop and implement their own community literacy programs.


 His areas of interest are visual literacy, second language reading, second language acquisition, content-area literacy, community literacy, psychology and pedagogy of reading, literary theory and criticism, film analysis, curriculum design and instruction, media literacy, educational technology and special education.  Based on his dissertation work, he built a theory on visual thinking and cognition which he calls as the “Zones of Literacy for Visual Exegesis” (ZOLVE Paradigm).  He dreams to be known as one of the leading authorities in visual literacy in the Philippines and he is currently working to propose policy recommendations to effect visual literacy in the K-12 curriculum of the present and in the future.

Ilynne San Jose Samonte, Philippine Normal University, Manila

Ilynne San Jose Samonte is an Education Program Supervisor of the Department of Education in the Philippines. Her area of focus is English and she is in charge of providing technical assistance in trainings and researches to school heads and teachers. She is a candidate for Ph.D. in Reading Education at the Philippine Normal University.

Cecille Marie Titar Improgo, Philippine Normal University

Cecille Marie Titar Improgo is an Associate Professor at the Bukidnon State University where she has been teaching English for 20 years. Her passion for reading drove her to pursue a Ph.D. in Reading Education at the Philippine Normal University. She is currently working on her dissertation on disciplinary literacy.

Merry Ruth Morauda Gutierrez, Philippine Normal University

Merry Ruth Morauda Gutierrez, Ph.D. is a Full Professor of Reading, Literacy, and Language Education at the College of Graduate Studies and Teacher Education Research of the Philippine Normal University, Manila. Her research interests include first and second language acquisition and learning, comprehension instruction and assessment, and curriculum development in reading and literacy education, among others.

How to Cite
BAUTISTA, J., Samonte, I., Improgo, C. M., & Gutierrez, M. R. (2020). Mother Tongue versus English as a Second Language in Mathematical Word Problems: Implications to Language Policy Development in the Philippines . International Journal of Language and Literary Studies, 2(2), 18-29.