TABUK CITY, Kalinga – I am a proud KALINGA, the name of my province and the name of the indigenous peoples in this province in northern Philippines. I am now a mentor in the best school in our province and for 20 years of teaching, I have wept with joy for the accomplishments and successes of my students. I am especially proud to be a mother of five smart kids. Four studied as scholars in the premier academic institutions in the Philippines and awarded academic distinctions. One is still a grade 10 in the school where I teach.
My wealthy of experience as a mentor in our community and a prized parent challenged me to apply and accepted as a scholar of South East Asian Ministers of Education Organization – Regional Language Center (SEAMEO-RELC) with the goal of enhancing my teaching career and promoting best practices and cultural exchange with other Southeast Asian nations.
I diligently prepared myself as a Philippine delegate for this goal. After passing the very rigorous nationwide screening of hundreds of teacher-applicants, only Zaldy Bueno (a teacher from Gumaca National High School, Quezon Province) and I were advised to submit personal documents and joined the scheduled interview. Finally, we were given our travel and schooling documents.
We were all 19 scholars from nine Southeast Asian countries. We exchanged pleasant conversations on our respective professions, culture and country. We were enrolled in the source on Specialist Certificate on Teaching Oral Communication Skills (OCS). Though we were a group from diverse cultures, beliefs or religion, attitude and perspectives, we were more than brothers and sisters. We shared our daily experiences of eating common food, performed shared tasks and assignments, listened to stories and sentiments of missing love ones, among others. All the participants were amiable, humble and loving. No one in particular showed indifference and indeed, learning was smooth sailing.
Everyday was challenging and worthwhile. I experienced fussy adjustments but I was able to paddle through one at a time giving us Filipinos more advantage than other scholars in terms of communicative competence, comprehension and advancement of lessons in oral communication skills.
We had three great and witty language professors: Dr. Marie Alina Yeo, Dr. Chan Yue Weng and Dr. John Bateman. Nobody can equal the level of expertise our lecturers possessed. They taught us with fluency, accuracy and appropriately, and their daily activities were authentic and productive.
Dr.Chan Yue Weng enhanced our knowledge and skills with theoretical and pedagogical competence in the teaching of oral communication skills. We were exposed to the best practices in building interactive and engaging materials in teaching. We had so much fun with phonetics -Pull the Bull, Dictogloss and role playing, and singing. One favorite song we used to sing was “ Tell Laura I love Her.” I acted as leader in class performances and this left an indelible mark in my schooling.
Dr. Marie demonstrated key theories and principles in assessment FOR and OF learning. We were taught to plan and construct reliable, valid and practical Assessment Of Learning (AoL) and Assessment For Learning(AfL) rubrics specific to learning objectives. Dr. John Batemen provided a broad overview of the issues affecting the teaching of oral communication skills. The course participants became aware of the implications of having varieties of English language for international intelligibility.
The course developed us scholars in oral skills and provided opportunities to communicate fluently, accurately and appropriately. This definitely enhanced my career and broadened my horizon. I am then expected to share my knowledge and learning experiences with other mentors to better serve students and the country.
Who would ever forget the lofty words of challenge of SEAMEO-RELC Director, Mrs. Tay Sor Har who said, “Congratulations Philippine scholars! Come back next school year for your Diploma Course in English!” During the commencement day, we were awarded the Certificate of DISTINCTION and MERIT, the highest honors for a scholar, plus another scholarship grant for an 11-month Diploma Course come 2015-2016.
Clad in my native attire, I stood tall and showed a sign of gratitude.
Matatago kayo SEAMEO!( Long live SEAMEO)