Illustration by Patrick C. de los ReyesSTUDENTS at the Faculty of Arts and Letters are now required to speak in English during class discussions, serving as “guinea pigs” before the launch of a University-wide English proficiency campaign.

“[Competence in English] is one of the main complaints of many of the employers [of our] University graduates. There is a survey [among employers] in the country and abroad, and one of the setbacks of our graduates is [that] they are very competent in their profession, but they are not very articulate, especially in the English language,” Rector Fr. Rolando De la Rosa, O.P., said.

The “experiment” was started in Artlets because many of its courses require communication in English, he said.

Artlets Dean Michael Anthony Vasco said the policy requires students and faculty members to use English as the medium of instruction and communication. However, the policy will not affect Filipino and foreign language subjects.

Vasco said faculty members should also submit a semestral assessment report on the students’ use of English in various classes.

“Every liberal arts student is expected to be highly articulate. It’s about time that we create a strict language policy in the college. Our students should be able to articulate their discourse in the English language,” Vasco said.

He said speaking in English is encouraged both in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, and even in the corridors of the building.

“I am not asking them to be language experts, but I want them to explore the language closely. The reason it is difficult for them to use the language is because they never have the opportunity to use it. You can only learn the language by speaking it,” he said.

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Vasco said the policy will not negatively affect the learning process of students because its aim is to develop fluency in the English language and not to replace the Filipino language.

De la Rosa said the use of English should not be taken as lack of nationalism.

“You can be nationalistic, at the same time, be able to express yourself very well in other languages,” De la Rosa said.

“We can never neglect the English language because it’s a lingua franca (world language). [Encouraging students to speak in English] is difficult, but we have to start,” De la Rosa added.

Marilu Madrunio, Department of English chairwoman, said: “Researches show that multilingualism helps benefit learners.”

“The moment [the campaign in Artlets] succeeds; we will adopt it in the whole University. But I know that there are some colleges already helping in this campaign by encouraging their students to speak in English even in their daily conversations,” De la Rosa said.

Artlets student council Public Relations Officer Felucci Asuncion agreed with the new policy.

“However, we should also believe in ourselves that we could also prosper using our mother tongue,” Asuncion said. Rommel Marvin C. Rio with reports from Ana May R. Dela Cruz and Darenn G. Rodriguez

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