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Filipino/Tagalog, A Language of the Philippines, Expands at UCLA
Courtesy of UCLA Asian Languages and Cultures Newsletter

Filipino/Tagalog, A Language of the Philippines, Expands at UCLA

Department of Asian Languages and Cultures offers courses in Advanced Filipino for the first time.

by Shoichi Iwasaki

The Philippines is an island country with 86 million people in Southeast Asia. It is situated between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, and is located east of Vietnam. Its two official languages are Filipino and English, but there are also eight major dialects: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicol, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinense. Filipino is a lingua franca based on Tagalog.

According to the recent U.S. Census, Filipino/Tagalog is the second most commonly-spoken Asian language with about 840,000 speakers, after Chinese, in the United States. The teaching of Tagalog or Filipino/Tagalog has a long history at UCLA, for it was the first Southeast Asian language briefly taught in the 60’s. It was re-established in 1990 as a UC Extension course, and it became a regular course in the Linguistics Department in 1993. In 1995 it was transferred to Applied Linguistics as one of the South and Southeast Asian languages offered along with Hindi, Thai, and Vietnamese.

In 1999, the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures took over Tagalog along with the other three South and Southeast Asian languages, and added Indonesian. Since then, Tagalog has become one of the most popular language classes in the department, thanks to a group of dedicated instructors, Tania Azores, Nenita Domingo (current instructor), Boots Pascual, Atilio Alicio, and Jiedson Domigpe (current instructor). The enrollment in Elementary Filipino/Tagalog ranges around 50 students (in 2004-05, 64 students are enrolled), with steady enrollment in Intermediate Filipino/Tagalog as well. This year (2004-05), for the first time, an Advanced Filipino course is being offered with the assistance of a Title VI grant received by UCLA’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

In past years, with assistance from the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, the Department has hosted Visiting Professors and offered such popular courses as Filipino literature (Resil Mojares, Spring 2001), and Filipino poetry and drama (Joi Barrios, Spring 2002). In Spring 2005 a new course on Filipino short stories will be offered for the first time by Dr. Nenita Domingo.

In light of the geopolitical importance of the Philippines in the world, and the strong Filipino-American population in Los Angeles, it is anticipated that courses related to this country and its languages will continue to be of great significance.

Reprinted from the UCLA Asian Languages & Cultures Newsletter, Vol. 2, No. 2, Winter 2005, page 4.

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