• DepEd’s Special Foreign Language Program (SFLP): In French

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    THE previous columns on the Department of Education’s Special Foreign Language Program (SFLP) highlighted the main features of the languages program in Spanish, Japanese and German. We described the concrete efforts, which the respective foreign embassies and their cultural institutes dispensed to maintain a vigorous implementation of foreign language education in select public secondary schools. We also made reference to the fact that the teaching of a foreign language in the SFLP is aimed to develop students’ fundamental communication skills in a foreign language apart from English “to prepare them for meaningful interaction in a linguistically diverse global workplace.” As a subject, SFLP replaced the Career Pathways Technology Livelihood (CPTLE ) in the junior and senior high school curriculum. SFLP gives equal importance to exposing both teachers and students to the culture, which embeds the language. The SPFL Schools, which qualify to implement the SFLP, are provided funding for materials and training for teachers.

    For this week, we look into the SFLP–French. Together with Spanish and Japanese, French was one of first three foreign languages that saw the light of day in SY 2009-10 as DepEd’s initiative for globalization and internationalization of Filipino students. With SFLP-French, the DepEd signed with the French Embassy a Memorandum of Agreement for the establishment of a pilot program for the teaching of French in various public high schools in Metro Manila. During the MOA signing held at the French embassy in Makati City, Education Secretary Armin Luistro said, “We need to expand this program…Every Filipino student must learn a second foreign language aside from English.” The program trained 19 teachers from Metro Manila and Cebu, most of them receiving intensive language training in France where they lived in complete immersion with French families.” Since then, French as an optional language, has been introduced to 13 science high schools in the National Capital Region and in Region 7. (http://www.ambafrance-ph.org/Signing-French embassy’s cultural counsellor Christian Merer of-new-MOA-with-the)

    In Davao, a software industry is reported to note a huge demand for foreign language speakers, especially for call center agents; but that the industry lacks human resource proficient in a foreign language. DepEd Davao regional officials believe that students undergoing the SFLP successfully will have competitive advantage over other applicants to the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry. SFLP also will support BPO industries in developing potential workforce for contact centers that require competence in foreign languages.

    Seven high schools in Davao getting the highest mean percentage score in English region-wide were selected as pilot schools for teaching the French language. As such, these “schools can provide substitute teachers who will take over the classes of two teachers while on training.” These schools “have available classrooms and support facilities and equipment . . . to support speech lessons.” Selected for teaching in the SFLP were teachers who had been on permanent status for at least three years with at least very satisfactory or better rating, have a degree or major in English and not more than 60 years old. (Read more http://www.mindanews news-)

    To assess the pilot program in the introduction of French in science high schools, the DepEd organized the first forum on the teaching of the French language held from October 17 to 20, 2012 in Bohol. All French teachers, principals and coordinators of DepEd involved in the program were present, including the French Embassy’s Mr. Théry Béord, Linguistic Attaché and Ms. Solène Vilchien, Embassy intern and trainer of the DepEd teachers. Reflection workshops were conducted to share best practices on French language teaching,

    During the forum, DepEd officials emphasized the role of SFLP in the ongoing reform of the “K-12” curriculum. All noted the growing appeal of French to Filipino students and its positive impact on building careers in the Philippines. It is reported that as of September 2012, there were more than 1,500 students learning French in the public schools, which include a High School in Cebu. The forum ended with a visit to the Tagbilaran Science High School where French is offered to nearly 200 students.(http://www.ambafrance-ph.org/ Forum-for-French-Language)

    Based on this success, the Embassy of France to the Philippines and the Department of Education institutionalized the teaching of French as a foreign language in 13 secondary schools through a Memorandum of Agreement signed by Education Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro and French Ambassador to the Philippines Gilles Garachon on 6 December 2012. The Agreement which provides increased support for schools that currently offer French as an option for foreign language includes the training of a group of 12 additional teachers “to double the time of French classes.” Hence, teaching French in the curriculum of secondary schools could be possible through Grades 7 to 10. In training 12 other teachers to teach French, embassy’s cultural counsellor Christian Merer said, “We’re very impressed with the quality of French instruction in secondary schools. ”Teachers may take the language proficiency exam to obtain the Diplom de e’tudes En Langue Francais (DELF),

    Linguistic cooperation is also made possible through the involvement of various actors supported by the Embassy: the association of French teachers in the Philippines, Alliance Française in Manila and Cebu (about 5000 participants) and the French School of Manila has 300 students enrolled.(http://www.ambafrance-ph.org/Overview-of-Linguistic-Cooperation) Teacher training schedules for 2015 are reported to be already in place. (,% 20schedules.pdf) (30)

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    Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, Ph.D., is one of the Philippines most accomplished educators and experts on institutional management in colleges and universities. Her studies have included not only education and pedagogy but also literature. She has studied not only in the topmost universities in the Philippines but also in Germany, Britain and Japan. She is at present the Vice-President for External Relations and Internationalization of Liceo de Cagayan University (in Cagayan de Oro) after serving as its VP for Academic Affairs for six and a half years concurrent to her ten years as dean in the Graduate Studies of the same university. She holds a Lifetime Professional Achievement Award from the Commission on Higher Education.

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