By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
To support the sustainable development of the Special Program in Foreign Language (SPFL) in Chinese Mandarin in public secondary schools, the Department of Education (DepEd) inked an agreement for a joint training of its teachers for Chinese language teaching.
DepEd and the Confucius Institute Headquarters recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for DepEd teachers to pursue a Master of Arts degree, major in Chinese language teaching (MAEd CLT).
According to DepEd, the program, which targets to upskill 300 teachers in the next five years, will be implemented by the Angeles University Foundation of the Philippines and Fujian Normal University of China.
DepEd noted that the MAEd CLT scholarship is “designed for SPFL Mandarin teachers to enhance their language proficiency and their pedagogical skills in teaching Chinese Mandarin as a foreign language.” This two-year master’s degree program, DepEd added, includes six-month studies in China.
DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones, in her message at the MOA signing, said “proficiency in language is one of the indicators of a quality education.” She added that this program is “also in support with the efforts of the department in uplifting the quality of education in the Philippines.”
For Chinese Embassy Cultural Counsellor Tian Shanting, DepEd’s move to include Chinese Mandarin in the SPFL is commendable. He added that DepEd is “one of the key contributors in the promotion of friendly relations between the people of the Philippines and China.”
Chinese Mandarin was officially included in the SPFL of DepEd through the partnership between the Confucius Institute and the Angeles University Foundation (CI-AUF) in Pampanga in 2011.
Since then, 310 Filipino teachers have been trained to teach Chinese Mandarin. DepEd noted that there are 11,000 secondary students from 93 public secondary schools across the country learning Chinese Mandarin.
Also present at the ceremony were, from DepEd, Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Diosdado San Antonio, Director IV for Bureau of Curriculum Development Jocelyn Andaya, Chairman Emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ambassador Francis Chua, Confucius Institute at Angeles University Foundation (CI-AUF) representatives, and other DepEd officials.
In an earlier statement, DepEd said it recognized the need to develop the foreign language skills of learners in the face of the increasing impact of globalization as early as school year 2009-2010.
The SPFL is one of the special programs being offered by the DepEd to “cater to multiple intelligences of the learners and to help equip them with the necessary skills to meaningfully engage in a linguistically and culturally diverse world.”
DepEd said the program is open to Grades 7 to 10 learners who have demonstrated competence in Filipino and English and are interested in and capable of learning another foreign language.
Apart from offering Chinese language classes, DepEd has been implementing SPFL classes in French, German, Korean, and Japanese in select public schools. For the SPFL, DepEd has also partnered with the Korean Cultural Center, Embassy of Spain, Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation Filipinas, Instituto Cervantes, Japan Foundation, the Embassy of France, Goethe-Institut Philippinen, and Confucius Institute-Angeles University Foundation in the conduct of capacity building activities for SPFL teachers.