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  • Is Your Child Struggling In Filipino? This Online Tutorial Might Help Her

    Students are given daily activities to build vocabulary, grammar and comprehension skills.
    by Minnie F. Francia .
Is Your Child Struggling In Filipino? This Online Tutorial Might Help Her
PHOTO BY iStock
  • “I regret not teaching my children how to speak Filipino!” exclaims Kit Malvar Llamas, mom to two daughters ages 13 and 9. She thought they would learn it unconsciously, like the way she did growing up. But she realized her daughters needed more than her own belated efforts to become fluent in the language.

    Kit’s daughters were at different levels of Filipino fluency. Her 8th grader needed to boost her confidence in speaking Filipino — she was starting to get self-conscious about her competency in the language. Kit discovered her younger daughter didn’t know how to competently speak and write in Filipino because there was not a lot of emphasis on the subject in her school curriculum.

    Kit’s search for a tutorial center to help her kids with their Filipino subject led her to The Learning Library center, which introduced her to the “Wika’y Galing!” program.

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    Prioritizing the Filipino language 

    Under Wika’y Galing! students are given daily activities to build vocabulary, grammar and comprehension skills. It collaborates with Adarna House, which provides its storybooks and Wikahon program, for a true literature-based Filipino program that students can do at home.

    The Wika’y Galing! offers balarila activities and twice-weekly sessions with a Wika’y Galing! teacher via videoconference. It has specific learning objectives and periodic assessments to monitor the child’s progress. Parents can also immediately see assessment results online.

    The interactive activities based on Philippine culture make the language relevant, exciting, and even fun for their students. For many, it is their first positive experience in learning Filipino.

    Enrollees include grade school graduates who don’t know words like “medyas” or “gripo” to high schoolers requesting help with “Florante at Laura.”

    Because the traditional Filipino school curriculum assumes the child is a native language speaker, there is a gap between what the school requires and what the student can actually do. “We try to close the gap by meeting the students where they’re at,” says Vanessa Bicomong, manager of The Learning Library, of the Wika’y Galing! program.

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    The end results for Bicomong and her dedicated team of teachers is not only a student’s academic awards or higher grades. “Wika’y Galing is our way of keeping children aware of their Filipino culture and identity. Paano mo mamahalin ang Pilipinas kung hindi ka marunong magsalita ng Filipino?” Bicomong declares.

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    Language fluency

    Bicomong has observed that a lot of their older students are smart kids whose only academic difficulty is Filipino or AP. For her, the problem is not comprehension but language fluency, and she doesn’t blame the students. Many kids of this generation grew up with little exposure in Filipino. “Studies show that you need to be exposed to a language at least 30% of your waking hours to achieve fluency,” she explains.  

    Parents do not also give learning Filipino the same kind of of importance as they would other subjects. They tend not to take Filipino seriously until they realize their child’s overall academic standing is already affected.

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    Intervention is good, but earlier exposure to the program reaps better results. “We are happy when parents bring their children to our centers when they are younger because younger children are not easily discouraged and are more confident to learn,” says Bicomong.

    She adds that half of the reading comprehension questions in the UP College Admission Test are in Filipino. “How can you be a successful Filipino doctor, lawyer, copywriter, or even actor here if you can’t understand the local language?”

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    Learning Filipino as a positive experience

    Mommy Kit happily attests that her girls’ mindset about learning the language has changed. “My daughters are enjoying the process of learning. They have become less conscious and judgmental about their level and pace. Now that they have a positive experience and relationship with the language, it encourages them to just keep on practicing and learning. It is definitely a good starting point as they develop their own love story with the Filipino language,” she affirms.

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    Dad Paolo Cauton shares that his son Pauli’s first language was English, and although they speak in Filipino and even Ilocano at home, he was not comfortable communicating in Filipino. After enrolling Pauli in Wika’y Galing! last year they noticed their son showing interest and enjoyment in exploring Filipino words. “There’s a noticeable improvement in his sentence construction, and as a bonus, he has finally succeeded in getting First Honors,” the proud dad says.

    Now that families have found themselves unexpectedly stuck in quarantine, Wika’y Galing! ’s online program brings fun and learning of Filipino to bored kids at home. 

    “Home is where the language is best taught, so our program is most successful when parents do the prescribed Filipino learning activities together with their children. Learning Filipino definitely becomes fun because you’re doing it together,” says Bicomong.

    Wika’y Galing! caters to students 9 to 18 years old and can do do video-conferencing and uploading of assignments by themselves. The monthly fee is Php 2,800 per month.
    For more details about their Filipino language class for kids with face-to-face instruction, parents can check out the Wika’y Galing and The Learning Library FaceBook pages as well as www.learninglibraries.com

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