Who wants their child to be left behind in this highly competitive world where English seems to be the universal language? No one does. But with everyday exposure to cable TV, Hollywood movies, multimedia games, and English-versed books, children do become more proficient in the language. The downside? Speaking Filipino has taken a backseat for most.
No wonder our little Pinoys struggle with Filipino words and grammar concepts. Subjects like Araling Panlipunan, Sibika and Filipino prove to be their biggest challenge in school. Whether it’s keeping up with their subject in school or just simply being able to understand the language, most kids have a difficult time learning Filipino with most parents not knowing exactly how to go about teaching them!
Today’s kids may have 24 /7 access to foreign cable channels, but they’re not as exposed to Filipino music. Today’s kids may know how to navigate complicated video games, but they rarely have a chance to go out in the street and meet new friends who spoke Filipino. The good news is that changes are ongoing in the school system. Private groups are also working at making learning Filipino an enjoyable experience for children. In the meantime, you can help your kids learn Filipino at home with the following tips:
- If your child is in grade school, build his vocabulary by teaching him three Filipino words a day. Ask him to write the words in a journal so that he can review them on a regular basis.
- If your child is in middle school, read age-appropriate Filipino stories with him. Discuss them in Filipino. Ask him to write a short summary, paying attention to his grammar and word use.
- If your child is in high school, help him see the relevance of the Filipino literature they are discussing in school by relating it to his own personal experience. For example: “If Rizal were alive today, what social problems do you think he would write about?”
Bambi Encomienda-Lazaro, coordinator and consultant for a private home school provider, lists some surefire ways to help your child take an interest in — and eventually speak — the Filipino language:
1. Learn it
Experts say a great deal of a child’s acquisition of linguistic structure occurs during the first five years of life. It is amazing how, at a very young age, a child is capable of abstracting meaning from ordinary conversations. Hence, early childhood is the best time to introduce a language your child can use in practical situations.
2. Speak it.
The most effective way to learn a new language is to hear it in actual everyday conversation. Let them experience Filipino culture. Give Filipino the advantage of first contact—let them learn the Filipino names of things first.
3. Tell a tale.
Use stories as a springboard for language learning. Children love storytelling, so engage your tot in fun read-aloud sessions using storybooks in Filipino. This will expose him not only to the language but also to the Filipino culture.
4. Sing and play along.
It has been proven that learning ensues during fun and enjoyable activities. Use music and games to help your child learn to speak Filipino. Singing Pinoy songs, and using it in games will surely heighten his interest in learning our language.
5. Use technology.
Explore a variety of media resources such as video clips, software, and other online tools that help make learning the Filipino language both fun and engaging.
Find out how much or how little Pinoy words he knows. This will help you create an age-appropriate lesson for your child.
7. One step at a time.
Begin by presenting to your child aspects of the Filipino language in bite-size, understandable pieces. Don’t expect your four-year-old to master the parts of speech with all its complicated jargons and syntactical rules. This will only lead to his distaste for the language.
8. Watch it.
According to Encomienda-Lazaro, parents should be careful not to express their own dislike or negative notion about the Filipino language. “Turn your own aversion, if any, into a welcoming attitude,” she says. Kids learn by osmosis. If you tell your kid, “Ano ba ‘yan? Filipino lang binagsak mo pa?” or “Di na kailangan ‘yan ngayon!”, what do you think would happen to your kid’s motivation to learn?
Rise to the challenge: Teach and learn the Filipino language with excitement. Developing a love for our language begins in knowing and accepting who we are and where we come from. Be proud of your own language and heritage as a Filipino!