Appropriating the mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTBMLE) in the grassroots: Ground level language ideologies and policy implementation

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Linguistics

Subject Categories

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Linguistics


Br. Andrew Gonzalez FSC College of Education


English and Applied Linguistics

Thesis Adviser

Rochelle Irene G. Lucas

Defense Panel Chair

Paolo Nino M. Valdez

Defense Panel Member

Marianne Jennifer M. Gaerlan
Aireen B. Arnuco
Cecilia F. Genuino
Maria Luz C. Vilches


The Philippines is the only country in Southeast Asia to have institutionalized mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTBMLE) in the primary school years. Implemented in 2012, the MTBMLE language policy advocates the multilingual approach that considers the right to be educated in one's own language important. As a multilingual approach, the MTBMLE policy adheres to the ideology of linguistic pluralism that supports the maintenance of minority languages and of cultural identity.

This study investigated the role that language ideologies play in the ground level implementation of a nationally instituted language policy, the MTBMLE, in the Philippines. Informed by the socio-cultural approach to policy studies (Levinson, 2001) and Spolskys (2004) Theory of Language Policy, this case study explored teachers knowledge, beliefs and practices to determine how the MTBMLE is appropriated at the ground level. Data were collected during a three-week period and consisted of focus groups, classroom observations, document analysis, individual interviews and the survey.

Results from this study indicated that teachers have manifested policy accommodation, incorporating the mother tongue as a language of instruction in their classrooms, despite having shown a preference for English that manifested in the teachers words and actions. While the MTBMLE conferred special status to the mother tongue, the teachers have been found to support language beliefs contrary to those espoused by the current language policy. Nevertheless, the teachers have demonstrated the implementation of compensatory strategies to make up for implementation issues e.g., inadequate training, insufficient materials, linguistic-related issues. Hence, findings reveal teachers as playing dual roles: openly accommodating the language policy while resisting it at the same time. The implications of these findings have significance for how language policy is currently being managed in the Philippines and identify language ideologies as playing an important role in the language policy process. Thus, a model for language policy has been proposed characterized by an inclusivity feature that considers the language ideologies of each hierarchical level to inform policy formulation. Language ideologies have been found to play a significant role in determining language practices. Moreover, inclusivity as a feature of the policy model considers ground level contexts and recommends that language policy must be implemented through collaboration among the hierarchical levels of the education system.

Abstract Format






Accession Number


Shelf Location

Archives, The Learning Commons, 12F Henry Sy Sr. Hall

Physical Description

1 computer optical disc; 4 3/4 in


Native language and education; Multilingual education; Language policy

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