• “A is for Apple, B is for Bola”: Teaching Kids to be Bilingual

    Here are practical tips on how to raise a child to effectively communicate in a bilingual environment.
    by Rob Del Rosario .
  • girl smilingAs an infant develops, concern is put solely on his or her ability to communicate. Through simple gestures, parents are constantly on the lookout for progress. Do baby’s hands begin to point to the milk indicating that she is hungry or thirsty? When do they truly call out for Mommy and Daddy instead of repeated mumblings? This is a benchmark for most parents in the area of verbal development. Language mostly notwithstanding, focus is put on effectiveness and not aptitude. Later on however, competency in language becomes a priority. 

    Living in a bilingual atmosphere can seem complicated to many, made especially confusing by making English the standard for higher tier schools, while Filipino, the local dialect widely spoken socially, leading to what we call “Taglish” or what is in reality broken English and Filipino hashed together. It’s not wrong for a household to commit to using one language, as long as they teach young ones to speak it well. The other language can be learned or picked up from peers, hopefully achieving equal fluency of both.

    However, there is no denying the advantages of the English language on the growing mind, being spoken throughout the world for many practical purposes. That doesn’t mean that Filipino is an inferior language, but since English is used largely as a medium of instruction in schools, it becomes a priority, with many households already speaking or adapting it, hence the prevalence of an English speaking environment for many children. This leaves most Filipino speakers to group among themselves and the English, not shared.  

    Pundits may call English speakers “un-nationalistic”, forgetting that Jose Rizal himself was a polyglot, with some reports citing he was fluent in eleven languages and a few more dialects. How can one be a great ambassador to his country, in any given field, without being able to express himself in a key language? How can one push forward in his or her chosen field in this country with only knowledge of Filipino?

     

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