In our school, we are offered three different foreign languages; these include German, Russian, and Spanish. All of these languages are fun to learn, and have many benefits because a large percentage of the world speaks them. There are many ways that learning these can be helpful for the future, but here in the community of Unalaska, over forty percent of people are Filipino, and speak Tagalog. Knowing this, I think that it would be a more immediate interest to be able to learn Tagalog as a foreign language.
If we are taught to speak Tagalog in our school, we’ll have a lot more motivation to take foreign language classes because of how many people already speak it. Being able to understand each other is a big part of a positive school climate. For the Alaska Performance Scholarship, two years of foreign language is required. I know from talking to a lot of my friends that the reason most of us are putting that off is because there aren’t any languages offered that we really have interest in learning. I think that since most all my friends are Filipino, if Tagalog was taught here, a lot of students would sign up for it.
A lot of people say that we shouldn’t do this because we already have a great foreign language teacher, which is absolutely true, Mrs. Roraback is great at teaching language. But in my opinion, learning Tagalog is a necessity in this community. Nearly half of our population speaks it, so it will be easier for them to understand us, as well as us being able to understand them. We would be forming a stronger voice throughout the community.
Learning Tagalog would help us all in the long run if we were to stay and live in Unalaska. It will help us to become closer to one another as individuals, and if we all speak the same languages, we will appeal to everyone in a greater way than before. If all of us are able to learn the Tagalog, Filipinos will most likely talk to us more, and if we are holding elections or anything like that for city council, the Filipino community may feel stronger and more comfortable with voting for someone who knows and respects their culture.
I also think that if we are taught Tagalog in schools, it will bring our town closer all together. As stated before, Filipinos all share the same culture, of course. A lot of the time, when there are birthdays or some sort of special occasion in an Asian household, the entire family will be there to celebrate, as well as friends. I think that if I was able to learn their language, it would help to be able to understand their culture. Communication would become easier, and we may start to integrate ourselves in with their cultures.
As I mentioned before, we run into problems with this idea due to the fact that we already have a great foreign language teacher who has been here for years. While it may not be possible to take the class as a credit, maybe the school could have community members teach it. Tagalog could become an after school club, just like Tsunami bowl or debate and forensics, or any other type of academic activities. I think that if an opportunity is given to do so, many people would still sign up for it.
In conclusion, I think that learning Tagalog in school will improve our school, as well as the community’s ability to act as a whole. Having the skill to speak the language of the ethnicity that is nearly the majority of our population will allow us to communicate better, and I encourage UCSD to think about the possibility.