Many Filipino parents these days have been raising their child as bilingual kids, Filipino, our national language and English, the usual medium of instruction in most private schools. Some parents have stuck with English so that their kids have a better chance in school. Others are more forward looking, finding it essential for their child’s future career competitiveness. Some parents also find it important to impart their national heritage and roots to their kids, thus the desire to teach their kids Filipino. Our schools have compulsory Filipino subjects and the fact is: the kids have to learn both languages to do well in school.
According to language experts and some researches, it’s much easier to teach a child different languages or dialects from birth to 10 years old. This period is best because they are little sponges absorbing a lot of new data, easily adapting to changing situations or environments. It’s not too late to teach your child Filipino at home. Below are 10 ideas on how to teach your child Filipino this summer. They’ve been gathered from parents who have encountered the same dilemma.
1. Daily conversation practice. To expose your child to your native tongue, begin by speaking the language at home, during family discussions. During mealtime conversations, initiate the discussion in Filipino and have your child join in by conversing in the same language.
2. Let them watch fun Filipino movies. This method is entertaining and doesn’t come as a bore for those impatient children. While enjoying the fun film, they’re also learning Filipino at an entertaining pace.
3. Play Filipino music at home. Sing along with them. Explain to them what the words and the song mean. Apart from exposing them to music appreciation, this technique also lets them learn the language without too much pressure.
4. Do your storytelling in Filipino. Instead of the usual bedtime routine of storytelling in English, try doing it this time in Filipino. Explain your words carefully, so they will still enjoy and understand your stories. There are a lot of children’s books available in both English and Filipino.
5. For older kids, purchase Filipino books and read with them. Try buying a couple of Filipino books together with an English-Filipino dictionary. While reading, they can refer to the dictionary anytime they’re confused with what words to say.
6. Bring them along to social gatherings where Filipino or your dialect is spoken. If you’re attending a social gathering where you know everyone is speaking in the native language, bring your child along. If there are occasions to go to the province, this will be a good opportunity for your child to learn more about your roots and practice speaking in Filipino or in your dialect.
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7. Filipino-speaking playmates. If they refuse to attend Pinoy social gatherings, invite playmates who speak the native tongue and let him mingle with them at home. You’ll be amazed at how much your child can easily pick up Filipino words just from their playmates.
8. Use Filipino flashcards. Find flashcards that have both the Filipino and English translations of objects or things. Make a routine out of it until your child learns the words by heart.
9. Filipino educational videos. Use Filipino educational videos that focus on teaching Filipino words one at a time. Do a rerun of it daily. Or find an educational channel on TV where the host or narrator speaks in Filipino and tune in to that station on a regular basis.
10. Last resort: Filipino tutor. If the other items above don’t work for him, maybe it’s time to get your child a tutor who can help you figure out other effective methods of teaching Filipino.
Whether your bilingual child is speaking another language as a priority because of a multi-racial identity, or is learning the English language for his future competitiveness, remind yourself that instilling Filipino roots in your child will help him appreciate his own unique identity more. The 10 ideas on how to teach your child Filipino this summer is just a start. Come up with your own list and find ways to help your child appreciate his Filipino identity and culture.