New high school course on Filipino language and culture gets green light in Vancouver

Feb 2 2023, 10:55 pm

An East Vancouver high school will soon offer BC’s first course focused on Filipino language and culture after the new class got approval from the Vancouver School Board this week.

The board unanimously voted to approve the Grade 11 course at its Monday meeting, paving the way for the new second-language class.

“[The course] is intended to introduce students to the Filipino language at the beginner level, while exploring Filipino history, traditions and culture,” a VSB spokesperson told Daily Hive.

The class will start being offered in the 2023-24 school year to students at Tupper Secondary School in grades 10 to 12. It will be an elective course and not a language credit course, and will primarily teach the standardized version of Tagalog.

In a report on the goals of the class, staff wrote it should allow anyone interested to develop an understanding of Filipino people’s language and culture, allow Filipino Canadians to reconnect with or preserve their cultural identity, and develop inclusiveness and equity.

Teacher Maria Ramirez and principal Jason Lauzon worked on creating the course, and Ramirez will begin teaching it next fall.

The report notes that Filipinos are the second-largest ethnic minority group in Vancouver, and the third-largest in BC overall — making up 5% of the population of Vancouver.

This is the first time a Filipino language course is being offered in BC, but not the first time a language besides French is being offered as a second-language course in schools. The current list of BC Ministry of Education-approved language courses includes Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Punjabi, Mandarin, and American Sign Language.

The VSB would need to apply to the Ministry to have its course approved as a template course to be taught in other districts. A spokesperson for the Ministry told Daily Hive it would be happy to work with the board to have the course taught more widely around the province.

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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