• How to Introduce the Filipino Language to your Child

    Experts say that the ages between 6 months to four years are the optimal time for learning a second language.
    by Tina Santiago-Rodriguez .
  • bookMany Filipino parents face different challenges when it comes to raising and teaching their children. In this age where our kids are bombarded by media, usually originating from countries like the US, it is no wonder that children, even those found in disadvantaged areas, are familiar with the English language. There is also an increasing number of children (my son included) who consider their first language to be English, having very little knowledge or understanding of our native tongue, Filipino. However, as is now evident, knowing very little Filipino can cause your child to struggle with some subjects in school.

    In celebration of Buwan ng Wika, and as a sign of love for our country, people and language, we want to share with you some tips from fellow Filipino parents on how to teach your child to love our native language,

    Educator Myra Mabugat–Menguito, mom to Paola Maria, 13, Joaquin, 8, and Tanya Maria, 3, says that in their home, household helpers are encouraged to speak to her children in Filipino and their own dialect (e.g. Bisaya). That way, the children are exposed to other languages, and not only Filipino and English.

    Mommy Myra also exposed her kids to early reading through the Marungko Method - an approach to beginning reading for Filipino children. “It so happened that CFC Educational Foundation, Inc., the ministry I work for, developed a workbook on this method. That was what I used,” she explains.

    Myra says singing Tagalog songs at home, such as Bahay Kubo and Tagalog Christmas carols, also helped foster a deeper appreciation of Filipino among her kids. “We also speak to them in Tagalog and translate the sentences to English when needed,” she adds.

    Editorial assistant, Monica Poliquit, with the support and help of her husband Dennis, teaches her kids Gaby, 8, twins Jaime and Joaquin, 6 ½  and twins Sophia and Jessica 2 ½, herself at home. They encourage them to converse with people around them in Filipino. They also try to instill the love for the Filipino language and set a good example for their kids by speaking the language themselves.

    Another homeschooling mom, Tara Alentajan, who also works part-time as an HR and business consultant, says that her kids Kahil, 8.; Bu, 6; and Uno, 2; have to abide by “Tagalog Thursdays” in their household. Every Thursday, everyone in the family is reminded to be extra-conscious about speaking Filipino, but throughout the week, we also encourage everyone to speak the native tongue in the house,” she expounds.
     
    Mommy Tara also buys lots of books in Filipino, usually those published by Lampara and Adarna, and reads one of those books weekly. She also gives her kids free use of a camera, which they use to take pictures of things around the house. They then make their own version of a Tagalog-English picture dictionary.

    “We print the pictures together and they label the pictures both in English and Tagalog. If we have a special patinig (vowels) or katinig (consonants) featured, I also let them use the camera to take pictures around the community, of objects that start with the featured letter. For example: patinig - they take pictures of ulap, aso, eroplano, unan, etc,” she explains.

    For producer and communications specialist Eliza Cornejo, mom to Mica 7, Dani 17, and Kristin 20, teaching one’s child to love his or her native language requires three simple, yet effective, things:

    1.    You must talk to your kids in your native tongue often.

    2.    Let your kids play with kids whose first language is Filipino. (In Eliza’s case, she lets their household helper bring her kids over to their home to play with her seven year old.)

    3.    Watch and read good Filipino material together with your kids like TV shows, films, news, children's books. “It may be difficult to force teen kids to read Pinoy materials, so watching is the better option,” Eliza adds.

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