Harvard University says it is hiring an instructor to teach Tagalog for the first time in the school’s history.

The hiring will be a three-year appointment with the possibility of an extension for an additional five years, reported the Harvard Crimson.

Asia Center director James Robson told PTV News that students will be enthusiastic about learning the fourth most spoken language in the world.

“What I’m hoping is that if we can demonstrate that there’s demand for these languages and students show up and are excited about it, then hopefully we can also use this to convince the administration to further support Southeast Asian studies generally and language instruction in particular,” Robson added.

The teaching of Tagalog at the university level is rare. According to College Factual, only the University of Hawaii, Manoa offers a Tagalog Language and Literature degree.

Some Yale students reacted to Harvard offering Tagalog with envy.

“It is disappointing that there are no dedicated Tagalog courses at Yale,” Ava Estacio-Touhey ’25, who serves as president of the campus Filipino student club Kasama, told the Yale Daily News. “Filipinos make up one of the largest Southeast Asian diasporic communities at Yale and have for decades.”

The chair of the Yale Southeast Studies program welcomed the news from the rival Ivy League school, calling it “great news.”

“If the Yale administration was enthusiastic about supporting the teaching of Tagalog, we would be open to that conversation and trying to find a way to make that possible,” Erik Harms said. 

The Harvard Philippine Forum had previously petitioned the university for a Tagalog class. Marcky C. Antonio called the class “a big win for the Phillipine community.”

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