It used to be that children learned to speak and only used English at school. Perhaps, we, the parents of today, had a hard time learning the language as students that we consciously or unconsciously raised our kids to speak English from birth.
Add to that the increasing westernization and globalization brought about by technology and the desire to give our children a competitive edge right off the bat. It somehow makes so much sense to raise our children in the language of the business world.
Teacher Kate Perello, a Reading Specialist from The Learning Library, surmises that parents have taken it for granted that their kids would eventually and naturally pick up the native language at school. Not being aware of the consequences, we did not bother to use the language in our children’s early years.
Struggling in Filipino And now we are facing a problem of our own doing. With most educated parents intentionally or unintentionally conversing with their children in English, we have kids who barely understand, much less coherently speak the language of their people.
An informal research among families who send their children to private schools reveals a disturbing trend. Our children are struggling in school, and it’s not because of the usual suspects - Science, Math, or History – but the one subject that used to be easy for most of us: Filipino.
Not used by family and schoolmates (who are being raised the same way), Filipino has become a foreign language for some of our children.
More than getting good grades Many students are now enrolled in tutorial programs to help them build and catch up on their Filipino language skills. The Learning Library’s Wika’y Galing program, for one, is much in demand, to help students bring up their grades in school.
However, we should have a deeper reason for wanting our children to learn and be fluent in our country’s language.
The mother tongue, which is defined as the language used by members of the community, is part of a person’s social and cultural identity. By raising our children to use another language, we are effectively taking them one step away from our identity as a people and making them unable to fully connect with our culture.
It is therefore imperative to act now and help our children gain competence with our language before it is too late.