A UST Linguistics expert said that although the University continuously develops fields of studies where it excels, it has neglected to cultivate other disciplines like Linguistics research.

“UST is not exposed to Linguistics or even Applied Linguistics,” said Dr. Marilu Madrunio, department chair of Languages, Literature and Philosophy at the Faculty of Arts and Letters. “When you look at journals, you rarely see published works (in Linguistics) from UST.”

American language scholar J. Stephen Quakenbush points out that majority of the researchers who study Philippine languages are mostly foreign scholars.

“Filipino participation is minimal (in major language conferences),” said Quakenbush, academic affairs coordinator of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) Philippines.

Having a strong language research program in UST would therefore help increase Filipino participation in the study of local languages.

But Madrunio said the University’s non-participation in the 10th International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics (ICAL) is an indication of UST’s performance in the field.

ICAL is a quadrennial major conference of researchers and scholars of Austronesian languages. Held in the Philippines for the first time last January in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, the conference sought to increase Filipino participation on research in Philippine languages. A total of 160 languages in the Philippines belong to the Austronesian family.

Madrunio told the Varsitarian that Linguistics research has not flourished in UST because there is no department to oversee it.

Madrunio explained that University-wide committee members for Literature, Filipino, English, Rizal Course and History, Social Science, and Spanish are not in the position to implement policies and that they rarely meet because of conflicting schedules.

Street sweepers no more

Madrunio said having a sub-department for languages is not enough to meet the demands of the dynamic field. She batted for the creation of sub-departments that would focus on every major language taught in UST, like English and Filipino.

“There are a lot of developments in English language teaching and the field is broad,” she said. “In other universities, apart from departments, they also have centers for (a particular language).”

General Education director Dr. Nancy Eleria, on the other hand, said that the University must have a strong linkage with an institute specialized with languages.

“(For example), in the profile of Spanish instructors, there should be continuity. We need to train people to know the language,” Eleria said. “A formal agreement with (language) institutions will ensure the continuous development of our teachers”

Madrunio said the instructors cannot be blamed for not engaging in research because they are not informed about it and it will disrupt their workload as UST instructors.

“It’s a matter of being able to do your job as a teacher and meet your desire also to be a researcher in the field of linguistics,” she said. “The interest is still there if they are motivated.”

On the other hand, Center for Education Research and Development director Dr. Allan de Guzman said the University needs to train instructors to mentor Graduate School students to write research papers in Linguistics.

“It’s just a matter of tapping the right people if the University has the budget and the structure. When you have the people, everything will move,” De Guzman said. “We could not offer Linguistics both in the master’s and doctorate level because we have few (instructors) to handle it.” Edsel Van D.T. Dura

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