While Filipino politicians continue to debate whether Spanish should be reintroduced in our national education, here’s Singapore, announcing “Spanish as a third language” starting 2014.
They intend to “develop a core group of Singaporeans to be proficient in Spanish to support Singapore’s efforts in exploring new growth opportunities and forging partnerships with Spain, Latin America and other Spanish-speaking countries”.
Singaporeans are very efficient planners. They see the big picture. Their reasoning is assessed based on what will benefit the country as a whole. A third language is optional. You get to pick what you like but you can’t skip it entirely.
The other “third languages” of the island state are French, German, Japanese, Arabic and Bahasa Indonesia. My nephew here, he’s 6, is now learning Chinese and would be taking up French in his next class. He speaks English and Tagalog well of course.
While they don’t have a tradition in Spanish they understand economics. The Singaporean government’s intention is “to increase the country’s attractiveness as a hub for Latin American companies looking to set up operations in Asia”. And this is nothing short of brilliant. Spanish has 416 million native speakers – that’s a big, big market to corner!
During GMA’s term, she pushed for the reintroduction of Spanish in Philippine schools. It stalled for awhile. Last I heard was it will be optional at selected private and public schools. Well, better than nothing. Senador Angara is a lone voice in the wilderness with his calls to “to incorporate Spanish into the basic education curriculum for good”.
Unfortunately, Spanish is not really popular among the common masses. Its one thing to make them understand of its economic benefit, another to have them embrace it. Reintroducing it as a regular subject in school entails losing votes. So its not really surprising that the main proponent of Spanish is a retiring senator.
I feel that not unless we push for it to be reintroduced and taught alongside English, starting in grade school, it will not succeed. A decade from now, we’ll see Singapore, Japan and Korea, surpass as in Spanish and with this, lose what could’ve been an advantage over countries that never spoke Spanish.
Source: “Spanish as third language from 2014”
Posted: 26 May 2012 1229 hrs Channelnewsasia.com