IN LACK OF BILINGUAL TEACHERS
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres is far more concerned about the ability of a bilingual instructor to fluently understand the indigenous language and effectively relay it to students, over the almost unattainable requirements that the Board of Education is currently requiring like Praxis exams.
Praxis tests measure the academic skills and subject-specific content knowledge needed for teaching. It’s a requirement in teaching at public schools.
Recently, the Saipan Language Policy Commission, in conjunction with the Indigenous Affairs Office, the Carolinian Affairs Office, and the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, decided that to combat the shortage of bilingual educators that teach the indigenous Chamorro and Carolinian languages, a development of an alternative temporary certification process should be considered.
Torres is in full support of the agreement because according to him, the indigenous language is the identity of the indigenous Chamorro and Carolinian culture. “It is who we are,” said Torres.
Lately, it has been observed that the current generation has lost touch with its identity because the language isn’t taught effectively due to the shortage of educators. Torres fears that if this continues, the language and identity will only continue to die. According to Torres, once one generation neglects to embrace the indigenous identity and forgets the importance of the language, it will be ten times harder to revive it for the generation after.
According to a previous article on the Saipan Tribune, Board of Education member Herman Guerrero was not in agreement with the MOA and even questioned if the language commission has the capability to choose who are eligible to become instructors.
In response to that, Torres said that the purpose of the commission is to decided these kinds of things. “We have a commission who decides…there is no U.S standard, there is no other standard but our standard,” said Torres.
Torres’ main concern is solely on whether or not the children are learning the language properly and if they comprehend it.
Torres said that eligible instructors should have a background in reading, writing, and speaking of the language and that they can successfully relay their knowledge to the current generation to better their understanding and capability in the language. “I am more concerned of that than Praxis tests and so forth…I am more concerned that our language is taught the right way,” said Torres.
According to Torres, indigenous language educators should not be chosen based off of the standard criteria used to identify instructors of core subjects. “Its different from teaching math and science,” said Torres. He believes that the focus should be on the language itself and on an educator’s capability of teaching the language as a whole and not on their praxis scores and credentials.
Torres also believes that the responsibility of teaching the language also does not fail solely on the education system. “It is critical to practice the language at home,” said Torres.
“It (the language) must be practiced at home, education in school should compliment the teachings at home,” said Torres.
When asked about his opinion on Torres’ statement, Carolinian Affairs Office executive director John Tagabuel said that even with the support of Torres, the decision still falls on the Board of Education.