• Pinoy childWho 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 big school.

    Sociologist Rene Borromeo says that being competent in speaking English doesn’t automatically mean global success. “I would bank on good social skills than just simply good diction. Though language is important in socialization, it is just one of the tools to communicate with other people,” he suggests.

    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.

    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. Speak it.
    The most effective way to learn a new language is to hear it in actual everyday conversation. At home, ask everyone to speak to your child in Filipino. Instead of requiring your child’s yaya to converse with him in English, let her use Filipino as they go through their daily routine. This will introduce your tyke to new vocabulary in a proper context.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    Related story: "A is for Apple, B is for Bola": Teaching Kids to be Bilingual

    4. 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.

    5. Individualize.
    Find out how much or how little Pinoy words he knows. This will help you create an age-appropriate lesson for your child.

    6. One step at a time.
    Begin by presenting to your child aspects of the Filipino language in bite-size, understandable pieces.

    7. Focus on the meanings first.
    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.

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