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Philippines is a
polyglot society with 181 existed distinct languages (Mandane, 2014). According
to McFarland (2004) the languages in Philippines can be further group into a
few language families which are northern group (Ilokano, Pangasinan and
Kapampangan) and central group (Tagalog, Bikol, Hilligaynon and Cebuano).
Mandane (2014) stated that among these 181 distinct languages, Chavacano is a
Spanish-based creole, while all the other languages belong to Austronesian
language family. Philippines did not have a national language until Tagalog was
declared as the basis for national language of Philippines on 31 December 1937.
Tagalog was then renamed to Pilipino in year 1959. In the 1973 Constitution,
Filipino, which is the basis for Tagolog was proclaimed as the official
language, together with English Language. The status of Filipino and English as
the official languages of Philippines was once again mentioned in Article XIV,
Section 6 to 7 of 1987 Constitution.

1. The national language of the Philippines is
Filipino.  As it evolves, it shall be
further developed and enriched on the basis of existing Philippine and other

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2. For purposes of communication and instruction, the
official languages of the Philippines are Filipino and, until otherwise
provided by law, English.

1987 Constitution
of the Republic of the Philippines (Chan Robles Virtual Law Library,1998)

Section 7 of Article XIV, 1987 Constitution, it is also mentioned that Spanish
Language and Arabic Language can be learned as a voluntary basis. Also, Section
8 states that The 1987 Constitution shall be translated into Spanish Language
and Arabic Language.

Section 7. Spanish and Arabic
shall be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis.

Section 8. This Constitution
shall be promulgated in Filipino and English and shall be translated into major
regional languages, Arabic, and Spanish.

1987 Constitution
of the Republic of the Philippines (Chan Robles Virtual Law Library,1998)

1974, the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) issued Department
Order No.25, entitled, “Implementing Guidelines for the Policy on Bilingual
Education”. Since then, The Philippines Bilingual Education Policy was
implemented (Espiritu, 2015). In the Department Order No. 25, it is stated that
English shall be used as the instructional language for Science, Mathematics
and Technology while the other subjects shall be taught in Pilipino (Filipino).
Besides, in order to ensure the competency of citizens in both Filipino and
English, these two subjects are learned as language subjects in all levels
(Espiritu, 2015). On 25 August, 1988, President Corazon Aquino signed Executive
Order No. 335 to enjoin all government departments to use Filipino in official
transactions, correspondence and communications (Catacataca 2015). The purpose
of Executive Order No. 335 is to promote a greater understanding and
appreciation towards the countries and thus enhance the unity and peace of the

Make as part of the training programs for personnel
development in each office the proficiency in the use of Filipino in official
communications and correspondence.

the “Oath of Office” for Government Officials and Personnel. (Espiritu, 2015)

consonance with the Bilingual Education Policy of 1987, the new-created
Commission on Higher Education in year 1994 has listed out a few guidelines
regarding the medium language in Philippines.

1. Language courses, whether
Filipino or English, should be taught in that language.


2. At the discretion of the
Higher Education Institute, Literature subjects may be taught in Filipino,
English or any other language as long as there are enough instructional
materials for the same and both students and instructors/professors are
competent in the language.

Language Policy of the Commission on Higher Education (Espiritu, 2015)


year 2010, Mother Tongue Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) was
implemented. Department of Education believes that children learn best in their
mother tongue and mother tongue promotes effective learning of additional
languages (Besa, 2014). Thus, MTB-MLE was implemented and 19 languages are
currently used in the teaching and learning (Department of Education, 2016).
MTB-MLE is implemented in all learning subjects (except for Filipino and
English) for all Kindergarten to Grade 3 students and the focus is placed on
speaking, reading and writing (Department of Education, 2016).


2.2 Nigeria

With a total
area of 923,768 km2, Nigeria is located on the west coast of Africa
as shown in Figure 1. It consists of 36 states altogether and the Federal
Capital Territory is Abuja. Nigeria is a culturally and linguistically heterogeneous
African state and therefore it is one of the countries with the highest
linguistic diversity and was once a colony of British from 1901-1960 (Orekan,
2010). The plurality of Africa was described by Ouadraogo (2000) when he stated
that “education and language issues are very
complex in Africa because of the multi-ethnic and multi-lingual situations”.

Figure 1 Map of Nigeria


Based on the present language ethnography, there are
over 521 languages and ethnic groups in the nation. These indigenous languages
are being classified into two, namely the majority and minority languages according
to the population of speakers (Ogunmodimu, 2015). Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba are
the three major languages in the country as each of them has over twenty million
speakers and they often function as local lingua francas as well as regional or state languages in areas
where they are spoken (Ndimele, 2012). On the other hand, unlike the
majority languages, the minority languages have only over one million speakers.
Some examples of these languages are Tiv, Urhoho, Fulfude, Istekiri, Ibibio,
Gwari etc. As for smaller minority languages such as Janji and Benue-Congo,
they only have approximately 400-100 speakers (Dada, 2010) and the usage is
only limited to their respective local communities. In addition to all these
indigenous language, there is also the exoglossic languages such as English,
French and Arabic.

As mentioned earlier, Nigeria has a history of British
colonisation. However, that is not the sole reason that the English language is
widely used throughout the country. Even before colonisation, Nigeria came into
contact with the English language through British missionaries and traders in
the late sixteen century. English then became the language of administration
during British colonisation. Now, English is the language of education, legislation, media, business and
administration. It is recognised as one of the official languages in Nigeria
as stated in the 1979 Constitution in Section 51 and 91, as well as in Sections
55 and 97 of the 1999 Constitution:

The business of the National Assembly shall be conducted in English and
in Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba when adequate arrangements have been made therefore.


Hence, according to the constitution above, there are now
four recognised official languages in Nigeria namely, English, Hausa, Yoruba
and Igbo. At the state
Government level, the major languages of each state are similarly recognized.

in reality,
English is primarily used compared to the other official indigenous languages. They only play a complementary
role either at the federal or state level (Dada, 2010). This is due to
the fact that English is institutionally the only means open to individuals
from different ethnic and linguistic groups for interaction (Odebunmi, 2005).

            In Nigeria, there is a third
language known as the English-based Nigerian Pidgin, which is made up of a
mixture of languages. Although it is not a native language of any of the tribe
or ethnic, it is dominantly used by the Nigerians, regardless of socioeconomic
status, to interact and communicate with each other in an informal context
(Ogunmodimu, 2015). Table 1 summarises the various language types which can be
found in Nigeria.




French, Arabic


521 types


Nigerian Pidgin


Table 1 Languages in Nigeria


Due to the nation’s pluralistic nature,
language planning is crucially important to promote national unity and cohesion
as well as to preserve its unique culture. In order to do so, the National
Policy on Education (NPE) was disseminated in 1977, which was then being
revised in 1981, 1998 and 2004. The NPE stated that the Nigerian languages has
a different role to play in the nation’s education which is divided into
various levels. It is also mentioned that every child shall learn in the
language of the immediate environment in the first three years while English and
French shall be taught as subjects in school. In addition to that every child
is also required to learn one of the three official indigenous languages
(Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba) to promote national unity among all the different
ethnic groups in Nigeria. The provision of the NPE in 2004, Section 4,
Paragraph 19(e) and (f) is cited below:

The medium of
instruction in the primary school shall be the language of the environment for
the first three years. During this period, English shall be taught as a
subject. from the fourth year, English shall progressively be used as a medium
of instruction and the language of immediate environment and French shall be
taught as subjects.


            Currently, the main issue faced by
the Nigerians still exists. The issue is once again raised by Ndimele (2012)
stating that Nigeria has never had a “robust
and well-articulated language planning framework” as there is “no explicit and comprehensive national
language policy.” The only thing that is present in the nation is its language
provision of the National Policy on Education (NPE). It is undeniable that NPE reinforces the operation of
language in education planning process. However, it does not guarantee or strengthen literacy
in the indigenous languages especially the so-called minority languages of




3.1 Dominance of the English language

all similarities, the most prominent will be the dominance of the English
language in the Philippines and Nigeria since colonisation until present days.
As introduced earlier in this paper, the English language is being recognised
as one of the official languages in both countries and plays a significant role
in both formal and informal context. The dominance of English has reached the
extent that the use of English is now more preferable by the people when
compared to their own indigenous languages due to its status as well as its
function as an international language.

For instance, in the Philippines, the national
language is Filipino, which is a Tagalog-based Pilipino enriched with vocabulary from all the Philippine
languages and other non-Philippine languages such as Spanish, English
and Arabic. Both Filipino and English are the official languages. However, except
for local communication and entertainment-based media on radio and television, the
language most widely used in schools and in the print media is still English. In fact, English continues to
dominate government and business transactions at the highest levels as well as
international communications and education, especially science and mathematics
classes, at all levels and all subjects at university level (Gonzalez,
2003). This happens because Filipino is a language yet to be fully developed
and is insufficient to fulfil intellectual and business purposes. 

Besides that, the Philippines current social problems
also contributed to the dominance of English. Due to its rapid population
growth rate and slow rate of economic growth, unemployment and underemployment
of university graduates is a common scene in the Philippines. Hence, when these
graduates are unable to find a proper job in their own country, they tend to
rely on Overseas Employment to be employed in various fields. Therefore, English
competence is emphasised more than Filipino competence at the tertiary level. Throughout the rest of Asia,
where many of these workers are employed, Filipino workers can be found in
English-speaking domains, thus giving the impression that all Filipinos must be
good English speakers. (Jones, 2000).

Similarly, the English language in today’s Nigeria
continues to play
important roles in the nation as the language of education, media, religion and
the language of politics, governance and law. It is the language of the elites
and also the first language for some Nigerians (Ogunmodimu, 2015). Nigeria’s multiplicity of languages is so obvious that
languages of people living within a 20 kilometres radius are particularly
different and not understandable to one another (Danladi, 2013). The
implication of this linguistic situation has been the lack of a common effective
means of communication among the groups and this became the basis for resorting
to use the English language as a medium of instruction in educational settings,
since the choice of any of the three main native languages as a national
language may deteriorate to disintegration.

English is used
in all and at all levels of official business: in education, in commerce and
industry, in the dispensation of justice, in all government departments and
parastatals at the state or federal level. Official records are kept in English
and official information is given principally in English Government activities
are published in the gassette and transmitted in the mass media, the press,
radio and television in English. (Dada, 2010).

For instance, many scholars have
written on the dominance of English as the official language in Nigeria. According
to Oyetade (1992:34),

consequent upon our colonial experience under the British, English has become
Nigeria’s official and dominant educational language. It is used in its written
form as the language of administration from the federal to the local government
level. It is the language of commerce and industry, its knowledge therefore is
an essential prerequisite for effective participation in the day-to-day running
of Nigerian government.


This is further
supported by lgboanusi and Peter (2005) stating that in Nigeria, the dominance
of English is overwhelming in practically all domains. It is also a language of
inter-ethnic communication. According
to Odebunmi (2005), English is institutionally the only means open to
individuals from different ethnic and linguistic groups for interaction. This
shows the dominance of English in the Nigerian setting (Ibrahim et. al., 2016).


3.2 Policy is Not the Reality

Both the
Philippines and Nigeria faced a common problem in upholding their indigenous or
national language because the language themselves are not developed. In the
Philippines, due to the lack
of financial resources, the national language has not been sufficiently
developed as a language of intellectual discourse. Jaine Z. Tarun (2016) also
pointed out this issue as his research on Language Planning and the Programs in
Filipino of Higher Education Institutions proved that there are very few scholarly materials
written in Filipino. Results indicated that English is the language used in
published books, scholarly articles, theses and journals in other disciplines.
The findings imply that the problem in the use of Filipino language is not only
on the technical discipline but in all subjects in the universities except
Filipino courses, where there is abundance of written and published materials
in English but not in Filipino.  

In order to develop the language, corpus planning has
to be carried out. However, corpus planning is expensive in terms of human and
financial resources, the society might not be willing to make it a priority in
the face of competing needs and economic imperatives (Gonzalez, 2003).

            After the Philippines
promulgated Filipino as the national language in the Constitution, some efforts
had been done to promote the use of the language. The Vernacular Education
Policy from 1957 to 1974 and the Bilingual Education Policy were among them. However,
both policy did not end up well. The Vernacular Education Policy was not
implemented due to the lack of resources for teacher training as well as the
production of teaching materials. Likewise, the Bilingual Education Policy in
1974 was aborted due to the resignation of the Undersecretary.

the other hand, in Nigeria, the implementation of National Policy on Education was
no plain sailing as well. Despite the fact that through the National Policy on
Education, it can be said to favour the use of two or more languages in the
educational system, implementation of the multilingual provisions has been a
serious issue. In an attempt to find out the different factors responsible for
the poor implementation of these provisions, scholars have a list of some
challenges (Olagbaju, 2014) which include:

Multilingual challenge

Negative attitudes of students

Lack of curriculum materials

Ambiguities in the policy

Parental factors

Teacher quality

failure in implementation is further proven by Ibrahim, et. al (2016) in his research
Language Policy on Education in Nigeria: Challenges of Multilingual Education
and Future of English Language. When the Nigerian teachers were asked whether
they implement the multilingual provisions of NPE, 77% of the teachers
responded that they have not been implementing these provisions at all while
91% said that it is not necessary to implement the multilingual provisions of NPE.
93% of the teachers stated that they are experiencing a lack of relevant teaching
materials, which is a situation similar to what the Philippines are

            Another issue that arose while implementing the
language policy in both countries is the objection received from the people. The
Philippines decision-makers and parents have never given the official
recognition to their national language. They continue to insist on English on
the children at a very young age, even though that hinders the children’s
ability to think critically in the mother tongue or at least in the national
language which is structurally similar to the mother tongue. This partially
explains the problems of language and quality in Philippine education today
(Gonzalez, 2003).

addition to that Maximo V. Soliven, a respected columnists in the Philippines
of the Daily Star was among those who voiced out his objection publicly. This
caused an uproar among the people and the Secretary of Education, Culture and
Sports had to go on national television and face a barrage of questions on the
language policy and program of the schools and to allay the fear of people
about the ‘internal colonization’ of non-Tagalogs by Tagalogs (Gonzalez, 2003).

            A similar case happened in Nigeria. For
instance, when a member in the National Assembly urged the House to adopt
Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, the three major languages as the country’s languages of
education and of government business, preparatory to the emergence of one of
them as the national language, the suggestion was greeted with a storm of
protests. (Oyetade, 2003). Another incident happened some time ago when it was
customary for newscasters on National Television to symbolically greet their
viewers “goodnight” in the three major languages at the conclusion of
the 9 o’clock news. This was fiercely opposed by speakers of minority languages
and the practice was consequently abandoned (Oyetade, 2003).

This ethnic attachment to language is a major reason
why the choice of one indigenous language as the official language will forever
be a mirage. There is the salient fear of domination of the minority languages
by the majority ones. To empower an indigenous language, as the national
language is to by extension, empower the ethnicity of that chosen language
above others. This will definitely do more harm than good in a system where
ethnic tension is visible as manifested in the creation of ethnic militia
groups and the politics of federal character. Thus, for practical reasons,
English remains the preferred choice given its tribal neutrality; it is capable
of unifying the nation’s linguistic diversities. (Ogunmodimu, 2015)


3.4 Existence of a Neutral

though it is evident that in both countries use the English language as their
dominant language, a neutral language exists in the nation. This neutral
language has no native speakers at first. It consists of a mixture of various
languages. In the Philippines, this neutral language refers to Tagalog-based Pilipino
while in Nigeria, it is the English-based Nigerian Pidgin. In both countries,
this neutral language is the most dominantly used throughout the nation
regardless of ethnicity (Ogunmodimu, 2015).

In Nigeria, pidgin is not only
used in public spaces like the stores, parks, and marketplaces, it has become
the means of interethnic communication in informal discourse in offices in
linguistically heterogeneous cities like Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. In
recent years, Pidgin has become the language of advertising. It is freely used
as the language of media (both print and audio media). A lot of Pentecostal
songs are done in Pidgin. Presently, Pidgin is the language of the pervasive
hip-hop culture in Nigeria. Notwithstanding, Pidgin remains stigmatized and
unacceptable in official domains. The attitude of the elites to it is quite
negative. It is viewed as a corrupt form of language that is associated with
the illiterates. Some puritanical linguists concern is that it poses a great
threat to the teaching of Standard English in schools. This pejorative attitude
to Pidgin has consistently made it to be out of place in the nation’s language
policy despite its functionality (Ogunmodimu, 2015)

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