THE Philippine Government’s Official Gazette records the DepEd’s Special Program for Foreign Language (SPFL) as having been initiated in SY 2009-2010 and implemented in selected public secondary schools. Starting, with the Spanish, French, and Japanese languages, the DepEd added German the year after and Chinese in SY 2011-2012. For this initiative, DepEd is collaborating with the respective cultural institutes which are the Instituto Cervantes, Alliance Francais Manila and Cebu, Japan Foundation, Goethe Institut and Angeles University Foundation’s Confucius Institute for the summer language training of teachers of these languages. Training of local teachers to teach well the language in pilot schools is foremost in the partnering agenda of these institutes. The SPFL, offered beginning in junior to senior secondary level, is for students who have demonstrated competence in English and are capable of learning other foreign languages.
Let’s back track to the teaching of Spanish language in our education system. Spanish was in SY 1950-51, a subject included in the last two years of high school and later was removed. In higher education, it was compulsory, as language requirement consisting of twelve units, which in 1957, was increased to twenty-four units. In later years, it was reduced to eighteen, then to twelve units. In 1987, it became optional.
With Spanish as among the first three foreign languages of the SPFL chosen as elective, then DepEd Secretary Jesli Lapus said “Bringing back the Spanish language in the school curriculum would help us understand and connect with our past. Many of the works of our forefathers, including our national hero Jose Rizal, which were written in Spanish, remain significant up to this day.” An agreement was signed by Secretary Lapus and University of Alcala Rector Professor D. Virgilio Zapatero Gomez for the latter’s university to design programs “to develop students’ skills” in the major communicative skills which are considered “fundamental to acquiring communicative competence in a second foreign language.” “With this agreement, our students and teachers will not only learn to master the basics of Spanish language, but will also be exposed to more opportunities of interaction in the international arena,” Secretary Lapus stressed.
This project is assisted by Spain’s Ministry of Education, Instituto Cervantes Manila and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development. <http://www.gov.ph/2012 /05/14/deped-enhances-training-on-foreign-languages-add chinese>.
To prepare for its initial year of implementation, DepEd issued Memo No. 445 s. 2010 entitled “Professional Development Course on Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language” addressed to DepEd Directors/Heads of Bureaus, Centers, Units, Regions, Division and City Schools, and Public and Private Secondary Schools. The said memo announced the collaboration of DepEd and its Secondary Education Bureau with the Instituto Cervantes Manila and Universidad D Salamanca, Spain in conducting a Professional Development Course on Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language. The training from October 25 to 29, 2010 was conducted at the Instituto Cervantes in Manila and at the Ecotech in Cebu City.
Twenty-seven teachers from the 15 pilot schools and a total of 75 teachers from Expansion Schools from the DepEd regions underwent the initial 2011 training. DepEd’s Human Resource and Training Development (HRTD) Fund sponsored board, lodging and travel expenses while Spain’s Ministry of Education was billed for similar expenses of the University of Salamanca experts (http://www.deped.gov.ph/sites/default/files/memo /2010 /DM s2010 445.pdf) and (http:// www.net/deped-to-reinforce-teaching-of-spanish-language-in-public-schools/804/) The training focused on “linguistic command of Spanish in grammar and vocabulary aspects from a functional and communicative approach, methodological approaches in teaching SFL, patterns and design and implementation of activities, integrating the contents of culture, communicative competence in the major communication skills. . . and Spanish culture and civilization, in order to contribute to a better understanding of the country and its people’s way of life.” (http://www.deped.gov.ph /sites/default/files/memo /2010/DM_s2010_ 445.pdf)
DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro, successor to Secretary Lapuz, believes that the varied enhancement activities of the SPFL “will strengthen the capability of our teachers and prime them for globalization.” Trained in basic Spanish in 2013 were nine other teachers from pilot schools considered as Centers of Excellence and twenty-six from expansion schools. They could be certified their proficiency by taking the examination in Spanish as a Foreign Language (DELE) (https://www.facebook com/ smrc community/posts/ 588588564 48 93165) (More from: http://www.gmanetwork. com/ news/story /260064/cbb/deped-instituto-cervantes-to-train-public-school-teachers-in-teaching-spanish).
One can gauge DepEd’s serious advocacy of the SPFL by its issuances encouraging continued professional development of public school teachers assigned to conduct foreign language classes. Department Order No. 5, s. 2015 addressed to officials concerned issued instructions for the release of per diems and other allowances due SPFL teachers related to their participation in the current and incoming SPFL professional development activities to upgrade FL pedagogical skills effective 2015 onwards utilizing DepEd’s HRTD 2015 funds.
Considering the several years that Spanish has been taught in selected schools, SEAMEO initiated a “rapid assessment” “aimed to determine the current status and best practices of the SPFL in Spanish.”. . . “It also aimed to identify areas for possible improvement and future development in the context of four domains namely (1) organization and management, (2) curriculum and assessment, (3) teaching and learning process, and (4) community support and participation. The study offered recommendations.”
(http://www.seameo –innotech .org/ projects-completed/spanish-language-assessment-program/).Likely, the recommendations offered from this assessment could apply to those of other languages in the SFLP.