Two education advisors from the Embassy of Spain paid the Faculty of Arts and Letters a courtesy visit on February 10, 2023. Mr. David Ferrán, Education Advisor from the Embassy of Spain in Australia, and Ms. Beatriz Jimeno, Education Advisor from the Embassy of Spain in the Philippines, were warmly received by the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Letters, Atty. Jacqueline Lopez-Kaw and Rev. Fr. George Phe Mang, O.P., AB Regent.
Also present in the meeting were Assistant Dean Dr. Melanie Turingan, Faculty Secretary Asst. Prof. Ma. Zenia Rodriguez, Coordinator for International Relations and Programs Asst. Prof. Michelle Desierto, and academic staff from the Department of Modern Languages Mr. Royce Randall Lim, Mr. Brian Erick Benbinuto, and Ms. Ruth Torres.
The following likewise attended the meeting via Zoom: Department of Modern Languages Chair Asst Prof. Abigail Pagalilauan, with academic staff Fr. Nestor Abog, Ms. Jana Isabela Hayao, and Mr. Dennis Maturan.
Ferrán acknowledged the necessity for Spanish courses in the College of Education and in the College of Tourism and Hospitality Management, with the possibility of an internship in Spain. He also considered offering Spanish classes to high school students at UST.
Pagalilauan also discussed the Language Assistantship Program in Spain, which many Thomasian students and graduates have joined. She said that the participants are hoping to renew their contracts with their respective language centers in Spain. Ferrán believes that participants in the Language Assistantship Program should have a basic knowledge of Spanish (at least A1 level).
The DELE (Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera or Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language) requirement for prospective language assistants will be implemented starting 2024-2025. For them to participate in the Language Assistantship Program, the participants need to have at least a DELE A1 diploma. DELE is a Spanish proficiency exam with six different levels ranging from A1 to C2 based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), which are learning, teaching, and assessment.
Discussion on collaboration included giving opportunities for Spanish teachers in UST to participate in the language assistantship program and the free webinars organized by the Ministerio de Educación de España (Spanish Ministry of Education), promotion of the immersion program in the College of Education and in AB for History majors as part of coming up with creative ways to promote Spanish to Thomasian students. There was also a discussion about a possible partnership with Universidad de Alcalá.
The meeting concluded with the formal signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the University of Santo Tomas and the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training of the Government of Spain, as represented by Mr. David Ferrán.
The objectives of the said MOU were to contribute to the promotion and development of the teaching of the Spanish language and culture in the Philippine education system, and the English language and culture in Spain; promote the relations between the citizens of the Philippines and those of Spain, enhancing the understanding and the appreciation of the shared culture by both communities; provide students and alumni with a multicultural and international experience which will prepare them for their future success personally, academically, and professionally; and to facilitate opportunities of professional development and academic exchange of the students, teachers, and professionals of education and the development of joint activities.
Exploring joint ventures with Thammasat University
Along similar lines, administrators and professors from the Faculty of Liberal Arts in Thammasat University visited the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Santo Tomas to explore possible academic collaborations in the fields of modern languages, history, and Asian studies. This marks the beginning of a productive partnership that will improve the academic ties between the two institutions.
The visit was made possible as a result of the nomination of the Faculty of Liberal Arts in Thammasat University to receive a donation from Senator Loren Legarda in order to execute the Philippine Studies Program in Thailand. This allows them to initiate activities including academic exchanges, lecture series, research grants, enhancement of the Filipiniana collection, and other projects relating to the history, cultures, and society of the Philippines.
During the meeting, the participants discussed the most important aspects of their academic partnership, which include student exchange between the two institutions, research collaboration, organizing a short summer course (including Filipino language, Spanish language, and other aspects of culture), academic talks, and visiting scholars.