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Did You Know? A Caviteña Is Harvard University's First Tagalog Language Instructor

A first in its 400-year history!
Did You Know? A Caviteña Is Harvard University's First Tagalog Language Instructor
IMAGE Wikimedia Commons
A first in its 400-year history!

Harvard University is finally offering its Tagalog course for the Academic Year 2023-2024, and adding to this significant milestone is another first—the hiring of the inaugural Filipino language instructor for the course.

The Department of South Asian Studies welcomes Lady Aileen Orsal as a preceptor in Filipino Tagalog, who started teaching elementary and intermediate Tagalog courses on September 5. She is a former faculty member at Cavite State University (CvSU) with a background in Philippine culture, history, and politics.

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“We are extremely happy to welcome Lady Aileen Orsal to the Harvard community,” said James Robson, Victor and William Fung Director at Harvard University Asia Center.

“We look forward to working with her to develop, highlight, and showcase the richness and variety of the history and cultures of the Philippines through events on the Harvard campus.”

Orsal’s historic entrance follows Harvard University’s recent announcement on Tagalog as a new language course offering in March. Rightly so, as it’s currently the fourth most spoken language in the U.S.

READ: Harvard University’s First Tagalog Instructor

Orsal is no stranger to teaching Tagalog, having previously taught in the University of Wisconsin-Madison and at Northern Illinois University.

She is also in the process of completing an M.A. in Communication from Northern Illinois University and a Ph.D. in Philippine Studies from De La Salle University while teaching at Harvard.

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“The hiring of a Tagalog preceptor is a necessary first step” for Harvard to fully recognize the Filipino language within its walls, Harvard Philippine Forum Co-President Eleanor Wikstrom wrote in her opinion piece in March. Before the introduction of the Tagalog course, there was only one other course about the Philippines at Harvard, which is part of a survey course of the history of Southeast Asia.

Generous funding for Orsal's position also ensures that Filipino languages will continue to be taught at Harvard University, according to The Harvard Gazette.

This story originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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