Senator Grace Poe has renewed her call for the Senate to pass the bill seeking to institutionalize the integration of foreign language other than English as an elective course in the Higher Education curriculum.
Poe, in filing Senate Bill No. 716 or the proposed “Foreign Language Education Act,” said passage of the measure would further help Filipinos become more globally competitive and “expand opportunities for employment, travel, cross-cultural exchange, diplomacy, international education, and business.”
“While learning the Philippine language connects us to our history, culture and identity as Filipinos, learning foreign languages also has its own set of advantages,” Poe said in the explanatory note of her bill which she re-filed in the 19th Congress.
“Foreign language skills is an important 21st century social skill that fosters intercultural and international awareness, knowledge and understanding, critical thinking, and effective communicative skills,” she stressed.
Moreover, she said the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has cited that global competence requires numerous skills including the ability to communicate in more than one language, appropriately and effectively with people from other cultures or countries.
Foreing language education, she also said, enables people to comprehend other people’s thoughts, feelings and belief and see the world from their perspective and helps an individual adjust their behaviors to fit new contexts and situations.
Unfortunately, Poe said the General Education Curriculum (GEC), Memorandun Order No. 20 that the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) had released in 2013 for the tertiary level was met with controversies and was accused of being “anti-Filipino.”
The GEC was primarily introduced to make Filipino and English language subjects optional.
In 2019, however, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the GEC in its decision in 2018 and can now be implemented in all colleges and universities.
The new GEC, Poe noted, opened freedom and flexibility to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the offering curricula that may include language proficiency that will make graduates regionally and globally competitive.
Thus, she said, immediate passage into law of the Foreign Education Language bill, is necessary.
“This measure seeks to institutionalize the integration of foreign languages, other than English, as an elective course in the Higher Education curriculum,” she stated.
“This shall be a 3-unit beginner course taught by accredited foreign language teachers as recognized by the CHED,” she further said.