Using Students’ Preferred Language to Engage them Actively in Learning About How Fast Solids Dissolve in Water
“Ma’am, puwedeng mag-Tagalog?” (Ma’am, may I speak in Tagalog?)
Carlo, a third year student, asked his chemistry teacher before giving his answer during a classroom discussion.
Science teachers, more often than not, would reluctantly allow students to answer in their preferred language and then proceed with the lesson using the prescribed medium of instruction which is English.
But what happens when three secondary chemistry teachers allowed their students to use the students’ preferred language in the classroom?
In the school year 2010-2011, the first two authors from UP NISMED and the four other authors who are chemistry teachers from Rizal High School collaborated to conduct a Lesson Study on How Fast Solids Dissolve in Water using the students’ preferred language of instruction. The decision to use Filipino is for the students to communicate their ideas and participate fully during discussions in the chemistry class.
One hundred-three (103) third year public high school students and their three (3) chemistry teachers were observed throughout the duration of the lesson. Pre and post test were given to students and 19 representative students were interviewed after the lesson. The lesson plans and activity sheets which were collaboratively prepared were written in English. The pre-test and post-test were written in English and Filipino.
Results showed that low performing students who were allowed to use their preferred language in class were able to be on a par with high middle performing students in learning How Fast Solids Dissolve in Water. In addition, feedback from students and teachers imply the equalizing role of language among students from a wide range of academic performance. Students expressed confidence and interest in learning science.