What Is a National Language For?

Lesson 1

How important is a national language? For an archipelago such as the Philippines, with 7,107 islands in which many different languages and thousands of dialects are spoken, it is very important indeed!

In this lesson, we will discuss the different functions of a national language. After studying it, you should be able to easily identify the importance of a national language in a country’s social, political, cultural and economic growth. You should thus be able to explain why every Filipino needs to learn to speak our national language.

Let’s Sing

Do you know this song? This was composed by Florante. Let’s try to sing it.
Ako’y Isang Pinoy
Ako’y isang Pinoy, sa puso’t diwa,
Pinoy na isinilang sa ating bansa.
Ako’y hindi sanay sa wika ng mga banyaga.
Ako’y Pinoy na mayroong sariling wika.
Wikang pambansa ang tangi kong salita.
Bayan kong sinilangan
Hangad kong lagi ang kalayaan.
Si Gat Jose Rizal noo’y nagwika.
Siya ay nagpangaral sa ating bansa:
Ang hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika
Ay higit pa ang amoy sa mabahong isda.

What did you feel after singing the song? Did you understand what it is trying to
say? Write down what you think the song is about in the spaces provided below.

The song is written in Filipino, our national language. It tells us that using and
being proud of our national language is a way of showing our love for our country.
Almost all countries have a national language. Do you want to know why? Read
this module carefully to learn about the importance of a national language to a country
and its people.

Let’s Read

Read the comic strip below carefully.

New Picture(0)New Picture (1)New Picture (2)New Picture (3)New Picture (4)New Picture (5)New Picture (6)

Let’s Try

Did you enjoy reading about Nena and her friends? Answer the questions below
to see how much you understood.

  1. The girls in the boarding house come from different places in the
    Philippines. Can you name the province each girl comes from and the
    language that she and her people speak?

  2. Try to answer Nena’s final question: how indeed do the girls in the boarding
    house communicate with each other and understand each other so well if
    they speak different languages? Write your ideas below.

  3. Imagine that the boarding house is the Philippines and the girls who live
    there are groups of people from different regions of the country. What can a
    national language do for the Filipinos?

Now it’s time to look in the Answer Key here and compare your answers
with the ones given there.

Let’s Learn

Did you know that hundreds of different languages are spoken all over the
Philippines? Of these, eight are considered “mother tongues” or major languages:
Ilocano, Pangasinan, Pampango, Tagalog, Bicol, Cebuano, Hiligaynon and Waray-
Samarnon. For each of these languages, there are hundreds of dialects spoken in
different places all over the country.

Do you know how a language is different from a dialect? A language is a system
of communication used by a very large number of people. For example, many people
from the Visayas speak Cebuano. But because they belong to different groups who live
in different regions there, some of them developed different ways of speaking
Cebuano. Some words may have been changed a little, or the way it is spoken may be
different. This difference in the way a language is spoken is called a dialect. A dialect
is spoken by a smaller number of people. Most people who speak different dialects of
the same language understand each other, but some do not.

Can you imagine how difficult it would be for Filipinos speaking different
languages and dialects to understand each other if there were no common language?
And what would happen if we could not communicate with each other? Would there be
lots of fighting as a result of misunderstanding? What aspects of our daily lives would
be affected if we were not able to communicate well with each other?

The following are aspects of our lives that are affected by communication:

  1. Personal communication – What is the language that you use when you
    communicate with members of your family, your friends or relatives? Are
    you using a language that can be understood by all? Do you have a relative
    who lives in another province and speaks another language? How will you
    express your feelings and ideas to him/her if you don’t speak the same
  2. Education – How can a teacher or instructor successfully impart knowledge
    to the learners if they speak different languages? Can you imagine an
    Ilonggo-speaking teacher discussing lessons with an Ilocano-speaking
    learner? A national language effectively promotes learning. Student-teacher
    interaction and exchange of information is successfully performed through a
    national language.
  3. Exchange of information – We communicate with other people to
    exchange information. What would happen if the information given to us was
    spoken or written in a language that we do not understand? Then, the
    exchange of information would not be done effectively.
  4. Planning and decision-making – Whether you are in a family, group or
    community, planning and decision-making will be best achieved if there is
    understanding among the members. Understanding can be achieved if the
    people express themselves in a language common to them.
  5. Teamwork – In building something, let’s say a house, all the builders or
    carpenters must work together as a team to produce the best quality house.
    What will happen if one of them decides to place the kitchen where the other
    intends to place the bathroom? This will create a problem. Again, building a
    house, or anything for that matter, can be done if there is understanding
    among the members of a group or team. This can be done if they
    communicate well with each other.
  6. Community participation – Each member in the community can share his/
    her opinion through the use of a national language. Because they are able to
    express their ideas and opinions, there will be understanding among the
    members and they will be united.
  7. Legal system – It is important that rules, laws and guidelines be written in a
    single language that can be understood by all. In this manner, confusion will
    be avoided. How would you be able to follow a law if you do not understand

The function of language is to communicate ideas and emotions and give
information. Without a national language, different ethnic groups (Cebuano, Ilocano,
Kapampangan, etc.) in the Philippines would not understand each other and the
exchange of ideas and feelings would not be possible. Without a national language,
there would be an absence of communication and instruction, thus an absence of unity
among the people.

Let’s Try This

Identify the aspect of people’s daily lives affected by language as described in
each of the statements below.

  1. __________ Lina tried to talk to her Ilocano grandfather, but she
    couldn’t understand what he was saying.
  2. __________ Perla has just transferred to her new school in Cebu.
    She is confused as to what her teacher is saying
    because her teacher is using Cebuano in her
  3. __________ Mang Ramon, a businessman in Pangasinan, is in
    Bacolod to attend a seminar on new breeds of mangoes.
    Much to his surprise and confusion, the main speaker
    spoke in Ilonggo, a language that he does not
  4. __________ In a seminar that Fe attended, the participants were
    grouped and given a task to perform. When she found
    the group to which she belonged, she found out that she
    and her groupmates were from different regions in the
    Philippines and they all spoke different languages.
    Their problem was how they would work together.

Compare your answers with those in the Answer Key here.

For a better illustration on how miscommunication due to differences in
language spoken can affect one’s daily life, read the comic strip in the next activity.

Let’s Read

One day, Marie received a phone call from her uncle who lives in Pampanga. He
has been there since he was five years old. He now speaks Pampango. From his frantic
voice over the phone, Marie sensed that there was something wrong. But she cannot
understand Pampango because she grew up in Manila. Let’s see what happened.

New Picture (7)New Picture (8)

Let’s Think About This

What would you do if you were Marie? What would you say next?

Let’s see how Marie resolved the problem.

What did Marie say to her uncle who was clearly in distress? New Picture (9)New Picture (10)

Marie’s grandmother was brought safely to the hospital. Can you imagine what
would have happened if there were no common language Marie and her uncle could
use to communicate?
The story shows how important a national language is, not only for our country,
but in our daily lives as well.

Let’s Think About This

  1. Can you tell how having a national language can benefit our country in terms
    of how our government runs it and how the people participate in its

  2. How can having a national language benefit our economy?
  3. How can having a national language affect the social and cultural
    development of our country?

Now compare your answers with the ones here:

  1. A national language can help us achieve political unity and strength.
    If Filipinos don’t understand each other, how can they express their
    ideas and opinions? But if we adopt a national language that everyone can
    understand, everyone can express his/her ideas and opinions and participate
    in the decision and policy-making processes of the government. This can be
    done through debates, surveys and discussions. People will also be able to
    follow laws and ordinances because these are written in a language that can
    be understood by all.
    Furthermore, the essence of democracy lies in “freedom of speech”
    that the constitution grants to its citizens/people. The people can best enjoy
    this if they can express their ideas and concerns to the different government
    officials. And having one common language will guarantee that they will be
    understood by the officials.
  2. A national language can help a lot in our country’s economic development.
    Imagine what would happen if Filipino traders and businessmen couldn’t
    understand each other. How would they transact business? By this is meant
    transactions between Filipino entepreneurs with smaller business from
    different parts of the Philippines who speak different languages. Big
    business transactions, especially involving foreign companies, are still
    conducted in English. What would happen to the country’s economy if
    businessmen weren’t able to transact business?
  3. A national language can promote social and cultural development.
    This is another significance of a national language. It promotes social
    and cultural development. When we say “social,” we refer to our daily
    interactions with other people, whether individually or in a group. Through a
    language that will be understood by all, an individual will be able to
    successfully interact with his countrymen. On the other hand, when we say
    “cultural,” this refers to practices, beliefs and traditions that are handed
    down to us by our ancestors and are passed on to the next generation. Native
    folklore, riddles, proverbs, dances, music, games and sports and even values
    from all the ethnic groups in our country can be preserved and passed on to
    many generations if translated in a common language. For example, the
    native Ilocano folktale, Biag Ni Lam-ang, can be read by the different ethnic
    groups—even those from Mindanao or Visayas. This can be done if it is
    translated into a common language. The various folklore, riddles, proverbs,
    dances, etc. of the different ethnic groups are enriched as they are
    propagated by the national language.
    The most important purpose of a national language is to promote
    understanding and mutual appreciation among the people of a country. With a
    national language, people can live in harmony with each other in a politically
    and economically stable nation.
    If all Filipinos speak a national language, everyone would be able to
    participate in the economic and political systems of the country. This way,
    we will not only help to improve our country, but our lives as well.
    How can a national language promote a cultural identity? To find out,
    read on.

Let’s Read

In an apartment in San Diego, California, USA…New Picture (11)New Picture (12)New Picture (13)

Let’s Think About This

Before you continue reading, try and answer Candy’s question first. Why not just
use English as our national language?

Now compare your ideas with the answer of Candy’s mother. Continue reading
the story.

Let’s Read

New Picture (14)


What does the story teach you? It shows you how our national language can be a
great bond that links Filipinos all over the country and the world. It is also a proud
badge of identity for millions of Filipinos working and living abroad.
Every free country has its own national language. Why do you think this is so? A
national language is a symbol of a people’s freedom, independence and unity. It
represents what we have gone through as a people (our history) and who we are at
This is why it is important that every Filipino learn to speak our national

Let’s See What You Have Learned

Fill in the blanks with the necessary word that will best complete the statements.
Choose your answer from the list of words below.

dialect social eight
identity political speak
  1. A ________________ is a regional variation of a language.
  2. There are now __________ major languages being used in the Philippines.
  3. Filipinos all over the world use the national language as a badge of ____________.
  4. A national language can help in our country’s ____________, cultural economic and _______________ development.
  5. Every Filipino should learn to ______________ the national language.

Compare your answers with those in the Answer Key below. Are most of
your answers correct? Great! You may proceed to the next lesson.
If you got only 3 (or less than 3) of the 5 items right, that’s okay. Just review the
lesson, especially the parts you did not understand or remember.

Let’s Remember

  • A language is a system of communication used by a great number of people.
    A dialect is a different version of a certain language spoken by a smaller
    group of people.
  • There are eight major languages spoken in the Philippines: Ilocano,
    Pangasinan, Pampango, Tagalog, Bicol, Cebuano, Hiligaynon and Waray-
    Samarnon. There are hundreds of dialects for each of these languages.
  • A national language can help us in the following ways:
    — It helps us communicate with each other more easily.
    — It gives us get a sense of our national identity.
  • A national language can help in the social, economic and political
    growth of our country.
  • It is important that every Filipino be able to learn and use the national
    language. Literacy in a national language is an important key to development.

For answer key click here