Philippines: the place Spanish lecturers have to be taught Spanish | EUROtoday

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There is a rustic on the planet referred to as the Philippines during which Spanish is a language that nobody speaks however seems like a ghost to passersby with good listening to. Spanish is within the names of the beers, within the surnames, in some place names, within the inscriptions of some historic monuments and in lots of particular person phrases of Hispanic origin that may be acknowledged in the course of any dialog in Tagalog…

“Until 1987, Spanish was studied in Philippine schools as a compulsory subject, although it was not a teaching aimed at the use of the language. The Filipinos studied Spanish like we have studied Latin. A lot of syntax exercise, a lot of grammar… In Manila it is still easy to find Filipinos aged 50 and older who can say a few phrases in Spanish, even though there has been no native speaker for a long time. I know that a familiarity with the language persists. The numbers are said like in Spanish, just as spoon is almost the same word. The phonetics of Tagalog are very similar. It is very easy for students to start studying Spanish, although then they always get stuck… And, if we travel to Zamboanga, the community that speaks Chabacano shares 50% of its lexicon with Spanish. “I can perceive myself with a Chabacano speaker simply as I can perceive myself with a Portuguese or an Italian.”

Miguel Blzquez, professor of Hispanic Philology at the University of the Philippines and director of the association of Spanish teachers in the islands (AFELE), is one of the people who knows the most about the persistence of the former the first official and unitary language of the islands, the language in which José Rizal wrote and in which its first Constitution was drafted. The story is more or less known: the Spanish arrived in the Philippines in 1565 from the Moluccan Islands. For the next four centuries, Spanish was the language of the colonial administration and, starting in the 19th century, it was also the lingua franca in a very fragmented country. It was the language of education, business and politics, even after the disaster of 1898 and the entry of the Philippines into the area of ​​influence of the United States. In 1973, a new Constitution annulled the status of Spanish as an official language. Over the next 20 years, his presence became ghostly.

“There is not any destructive angle in the direction of Spanish or a reproach for being the language of the colony. Rather, there’s a nostalgic curiosity,” says Blánquez, who arrived in the Philippines in 2017. Last December, a report from the Cervantes Institute identified the archipelago as one of the countries in which it exists more demand for Spanish teachers along with Sweden and Norway.

Of course, the Philippines is not Sweden or Norway and its education system does not offer the promise of a kind and well-paid career. On the contrary, the case of the Spanish in the Philippines is marked by the precariousness of a country in which GDP per capita is 3,460 dollars15% of the level of Spain and in which territorial inequality is immense.

“In 2010 and 2012, the Government of Spain signed two agreements with the Government of the Philippines to reintroduce Spanish as an optionally available topic in public secondary schooling,” says Blzquez. Queen Sofa and the then minister García Margallo They traveled to Manila and visited a school and the agreement was celebrated as a diplomatic success.

In practice, the application of the conventions was frustrating. “As there have been no Spanish lecturers, we needed to retrain the present workers, the English or science lecturers. inform them that they needed to train Spanish class“says Blzquez. The training programs agreed upon for them never bore the expected results, so in 2017 the director of AFELE found himself with an unusual circumstance: the Philippines had a body of Spanish teachers who, in short and with very few nuances, he didn't speak Spanish.

His task, since then, has been to improve his situation. Blzquez trains teachers, designs free teaching resources for students and teachers and edits free textbooks, adapted to the reality of the country.. “The Government of Spain, since 2021, has participated extra actively within the coaching of those lecturers with free webinars and Spanish programs by the Europrof program. In addition, the embassy is engaged on the renewal of the bilateral settlement with the Philippine authorities that expired in 2016,” he points out.

Is a future imaginable in which the Philippines begins to import Spanish teachers? No. The public system is protectionist, very difficult to access for expatriate workers, and offers low salaries, while private education is elitist and relatively small. The few students of Hispanic Philology at the University of the Philippines avoid the path of public education because they aspire to better salaries. Despite the precariousness of its economy, the Philippines is a country that has prospered a lot in the last decade and in which the temptation of business and rapid social advancement It is everywhere.

“We have turn into the nice name heart within the United States,” says Blzquez. “And, for the reason that United States has a big Hispanic inhabitants, talking Spanish is starting to be extremely valued by employers.” The Spanish subject is behind other languages ​​that are offered as electives: Chinese and Korean represent the countries that invest the most in the country and they have an obvious pragmatic interest. Japanese is on the next step, thanks to the Filipinos' cultural fascination with the country their country occupied during World War II. Spanish is the first European “second language”, very far from English, which is the lingua franca and the one that conveys education. The potential is great, although we must be realistic: outside of Manila, not even the knowledge of English is so widespread.

What would Blzquez say to the Ministers of Education and Foreign Affairs? “He would encourage you to work extra with native establishments, to take heed to them, and allow them to Let them be those who resolve and lead the processes. “It's not so much a question of resources, but of attitude.”