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Tagalog set to be taught in New Zealand

Flag of New Zealand Flag of the Philippines

New Zealand has expressed interest in studying the Filipino language as a second language in their schools as a way to forge a broader and deeper cultural exchange with the Philippines.

Presidential adviser on education Dr. Mona Valisno and New Zealand’s Minister of Education Chris Carter at the 4th Asia Pacific Economic Conference Education Ministerial Meeting met in Lima, Peru last June 11 to 13 and both had agreed to adopt the Filipino language as the chosen foreign language to be taught in New Zealand’s schools. The 4th APEC education summit focused on international exchange in education and culture.

“This is a major accomplishment for us. If we can push this through, maybe we can have other countries do the same. This will be very great for the Philippines’ international relations and our image abroad,” Valisno said.

There are some 13,000 Filipinos living and working in New Zealand and with the project, New Zealanders will better understand the Filipino culture and psychology and remove the language barrier between them, Valisno said.

Likewise, the proposal to include the study of Filipino language in New Zealand schools will expand the trade and culture exchanges between the two countries.

“Mr. Carter said himself that there are about 13,000 Filipinos in New Zealand. If they will study and learn our language, they can have a greater understanding of our OFWs there which would be good for our countrymen,” Valisno said.

The inclusion will likewise provide jobs to Filipinos since the schools would have to hire Pinoy teachers specializing in teaching Tagalog.

In one of the small group discussion among education officials from various countries where the study of each other’s languages was discussed, Valisno took the opportunity to talk to Carter, who was her seatmate, about the possibility of including the Filipino language as the second language to be studied in New Zealand schools. Carter was won over.

“One of the things we have agreed on is that there should be a greater effort at learning each other’s language. We agreed that this is critical because we now live in a global economy,” Valisno said.

Valisno said another important issue that was discussed in the conference was the benchmarking of standards of professional education programs of schools in APEC member countries, especially at a time when the Philippines is facing “difficulties in the recognition of its Filipino professionals in other countries.”