In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent shortened academic year, the Department of Education (DepEd), through the Bureau of Curriculum DevelopmentCurriculum Standards Development Division, has produced a list of the most essential learning competencies (MELCs).
This was done in order to ensure that the Grade Level Standards set for each learning area are still attained. In the process of identifying the MELCs, the ENDURANCE criterion was used as the sole determiner. Guided by the requirement that a learning competency (LC) be useful in lifelong learning, the group of specialists in charge of the English curricula recognizes the role of the subject in providing the literacy and oracy skills necessary in acquiring the content knowledge in other learning areas.
Therefore, the MELCs identified are those that work in close association with other competencies in other subjects, thus maintaining the curricular quality of integration.
G4 Q1: Identify different meanings of content-specific words (denotation and connotation)
The example above provides students with knowledge of content-specific words learned from subjects delivered using English such as Math and Science.
MELCs are also significantly less than the original number of LCs in the curriculum because of two factors. First, recurrence is avoided especially in a key stage. Although any language curricula would require recurrence as this is the nature of language learning, this is limited per key stage. In other words, an LC deemed significant enough to repeat shall only recur in the next key stage while observing spiral progression.
Key Stage 2 (G6 Q2): Detect biases and propaganda devices used by speakers
Key Stage 3 (G8 Q3): Examine biases (for or against) made by the author
However, this does not mean that the teacher is prohibited from teaching an LC more than once. Following the principle of curriculum flexibility and differentiated instruction, he/she is strongly advised to put the focus, and therefore repeat an LC should circumstances require.
The second factor considered in determining the MELCs is the LCs’ ability to be clustered together. Consider the example below:
Use a variety of informative, persuasive, and argumentative writing techniques
As can be seen, this LC would entail a number of other competencies in order for it to be achieved. Among the competencies needed are: (1) making a stand; (2) gathering information from various sources; (3) citing sources of information. This consequently calls for unpacking and sub-tasking on the part of the teacher, so that bigger or broader LCs may be broken down into manageable sub-competencies.
It should also be noted that domains were no longer retained as these may cause confusion among end users. The original English Curriculum Guide (CG) was designed in such a way that domains work together through horizontal alignment since one lesson does not tackle only one macro skill, but multiple skills. However, during the examination of LCs using the ENDURANCE criterion, some skills under a particular domain can no longer be retained.
Organizing the MELCs by domain, through columns as in the original CG, would render the document seemingly incomplete and harder to follow due to the absence of horizontal alignment. See the table below which shows Week 9 of the First Quarter of Grade 4; note that entries in red are not considered MELCs:
|Listening Comprehension||Oral Language||Vocabulary Development||Reading Comprehension||Oral Reading Fluency||Study Strategy||Grammar||Writing Composition|
2.8 Infer feelings and traits of characters based on the story heard
Express one’s ideas and feelings clearly
Use context clues (exemplification) to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words
Infer feelings and traits of characters based on the story read
Read with accuracy words, phrases, poems, and stories with silent letters
Use the simple present tense of verbs in sentence s
Write a response to a story/po em read
or listened to -letters
Accordingly, the MELCs were arranged in a list based on cognitive demand, which makes way for better curriculum flexibility as teachers are able to freely integrate LCs without the restrictions of horizontal alignment. Relative to this, the schedule and time allotment of LCs in quarters are suggestive in nature. As discussed, the teacher is given the autonomy to unpack the MELC depending on the needs of the learners. Based on this premise, therefore, the duration of an LC is relative. What is required, however, is that the list of competencies is achieved in the specified grade level.
Lastly, because the content and performance standards in the English Curriculum are described in such detail, especially in Grades 1 to 4 where these are broken down into domains, the process of determining the MELCs required that some of these standards be forgone.
See the figure below showing some of the content and performance standards for Grade 2:
|Domain||Content Standard||Performance Standard|
|The learner…||The learner…|
|Oral Language||demonstrates an understanding of grade-level-appropriate words used to communicate inter- and intrapersonal experiences, ideas, thoughts, actions, and feelings||independently takes turns in sharing inter and intra-personal experiences, ideas, thoughts, actions, and feelings using appropriate words|
|demonstrates an understanding of familiar literary texts and common expressions for effective oral interpretation and communication||uses appropriate expressions in oral interpretation and familiar situations|
|Fluency||demonstrates an understanding of punctuation marks, rhythm, pacing, intonation, and vocal patterns as a guide for fluent reading and speaking||fluently expresses ideas in various speaking tasks|
accurately and fluently reads aloud literary and informational texts appropriate to the grade level
|Listening Comprehension||demonstrates an understanding of text elements to see the relationship between known and new information to facilitate comprehension||correctly presents text elements through simple organizers to make inferences, predictions, and conclusions|
|demonstrates an understanding of information heard to make meaningful decisions||uses information from theme-based activities as a guide for decision making and following instructions|
|Alphabet Knowledge||demonstrates an understanding of the alphabets in English in comparison to the alphabets of Filipino and Mother Tongue||distinguishes similarities and differences of the alphabets in English and Mother Tongue/Filipino|
|Phonics and Word Recognition||demonstrates an understanding of the relationship of phonetic principles of Mother Tongue and English to decode unknown words in English||analyzes the pattern of sounds in words for meaning and accuracy|
ably reads and spells out grade-appropriate regular and irregular words in English
|Phonological Awareness||demonstrates an understanding of the letter-sound relationship between Mother Tongue and English for effective transfer of learning||effectively transfers the knowledge of the letter-sound relationship from Mother Tongue to English|
correctly hears and records sounds in words
|Vocabulary||demonstrates an understanding of the suitable vocabulary used in different languages for effective communication||uses familiar vocabulary to independently express ideas in speaking activities|
|Book Knowledge||demonstrates an understanding of the concepts of print||correctly identifies book parts and follows reading conventions|
Nevertheless, it is assumed that all Grade Level Standards are maintained through the chosen MELCs.
How to Use the MELCs
Given the nature of the MELCs, the teacher is advised to re-teach certain competencies needed for their achievement. It is also recommended that the teacher unpack the MELCs into more specific learning competencies as guided by the original 2016 English Curriculum Guide. Consider the following samples:
The sub-competencies listed above are only some of the LCs subsumed by the MELCs. The teacher may include more or less than those identified depending on the needs of the learners. Teachers are given the leeway to formulate learning objectives deemed necessary for their students’ cognitive development as long as they adhere to the existing curriculum standards prescribed by the Department of Education.