MANILA, Philippines—If the Department of Education (DepEd) had its way, more and more Filipinos may soon appreciate the literary works of Pablo Neruda, Don Quixote, or Gabriel Garcia Marquez in their original Spanish text.
Starting this coming school year, Spanish will be taught in selected public high schools around the country to better prepare students “in communicating a widely used second language,” according to Education Secretary Jesli Lapus.
“(This will) prepare the students for meaningful interaction in a linguistically diverse global workplace. It will also develop understanding and appreciation of other people's culture," Lapus said on Monday.
Spanish, once an official language of the Philippines, would be reintroduced in high school through a “Special Program in Foreign Language,” which is aimed at schools whose students “have demonstrated competence in English and are also capable of learning another foreign language.”
Lapus said the program would develop students' skills in “listening, reading, writing, speaking and viewing which are necessary for the students to acquire communication skills using a second foreign language.”
The program would initially offer Spanish in one school per region with two classes of 35 students each per school, Lapus said.
The pilot schools and their teachers would be selected by the DepEd Regional Office based on the criteria for selection, he added.
In the selection of the pilot schools, only secondary schools with the highest Mean Percentage Score (MPS) in English in the whole region will be selected.
The school should also be able to provide substitute teachers who will take over the classes of the foreign language teachers while on training.
Lapus added that the pilot schools would be selected based on the availability of classrooms and support facilities and equipment like “computer laboratory with at least 10 computers and headsets to support speech lessons.”
"One of the criteria in selecting the teachers who will handle the teaching of the foreign language is that they must be willing to finish the crash course and participate in teaching Spanish," Lapus said.
The teachers who will be selected to undergo the three-month training will earn units under the continuing education program.
Lapus said the department wanted to make sure there would be enough teachers to handle the subjects in selected pilot schools upon the start of the program in June 2009.
An estimated 320 million people speak Spanish as a native language around the globe today, making it the world's fourth most spoken language in terms of native speakers.
The language reached these shores with the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century and it remained an official language of the country despite the American occupation of the Philippines in the early 20th century.
It lost its status as an official language only in 1973 during the administration of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
After Marcos was toppled in 1986, the mandatory teaching of Spanish in colleges and universities was also stopped, and thus, younger generations of Filipinos have little or no knowledge of Spanish as compared to the older generations.
However, the Spanish language retains a large influence in local dialects---like Chabacano---with many words coming from or being derived from Spanish.
And besides enriching the country’s Hispanic heritage, learning Spanish would also be a practical help for those hoping to land a job in the booming call center industry, where Spanish-speakers are sought after and are paid higher salaries.
credit to: inquirer.net