There’s nothing bad with wanting your child to talk in English. But Filipino shouldn’t be a back-up language.
Yñigo is an Inglishero boy. Most of the time, you’d hear him converse in English - with his long, running sentences trying to explain how much he loves excavators, how much he adores going to SM, or when he tries to tell you about his day. I understand that a lot of parents just want their kids to have English as their ‘mother tongue’ so they have an easier time looking for a job or opportunities to thrive in. It’s the same mentality my parents had for my sisters and I growing up. Now that I’m an adult, I do understand the need of that competitive edge.
However, if you know me, you know I’ve always preferred Filipino as my conversation voice. I use English more comfortably when I write eh. Pero pag nagchikkahan tayo, malalaman niyo kung gaano ako ka-”at home” sa wikang Filipino.
Filipino, our national language, almost always plays second best to English. Not a lot of people see the need to being good at it…
Will the Filipino language open opportunities for my child abroad?
Everyone’s talking in English, so why bother learn something else?
Will other people understand me more if I use Filipino?
Filipino is a such beautiful language. In fact, blood and ink was shed for our rights of liberty to be declared. The struggle of ownership of identity, citizenship for our people and a language for our country inspired our national heroes. It is our people’s way of solidifying our identity.
growing up filipino
Despite growing up having to learn English, my parents always spoke Filipino at home. Apart from the fact that their parents didn’t have the same disposition as parents these days, they never broke away from what made them feel & embrace being Filipino.
Until today, they practice the very same method they did with me, with Yñigo - which I will be grateful for.
In my formative years, I grew up overseas - moving from country to country. To be honest, it was hard learning languages such as Mandarin, Indonesian, and even English. I went to a school which was a melting pot of culture, but what I always remembered was despite communicating in English, each person (from whatever country they were from) talked in their mother tongue. It’s what set them apart from me - and I guess that was cool considering that we all knew how English brought us together; but we had our “own” languages that strengthened our identities as individuals.
This is why I see value in teaching Yñigo Filipino - why I still talk to him at home in both English & Filipino. I want him to grow up being knowledgeable and comfortable with these two languages - one that can open opportunities for him, but one that he can always feel at home with.
But how exactly would a parent go about encouraging their child to love the Filipino language?
speak Filipino at home (as much as you can)
Introduce simple words or phrases to widen his vocabulary.
Start using Filipino at home. You want to first establish an association with the Filipino language to the feeling of comfort, the feeling of what home is.
Simple things by saying “Magandang Umaga” instead of good morning, or “Kain na” instead of let’s eat. It’s like teaching your kids how to talk in English, but essentially using the Filipino language to widen their understanding and vocabulary.
Normally, you’d find it funny whenever you’d here Yñigo shout “Hala, butiki!” or “Mama, kagat langgam!”. It’s still fragmented when he uses it… but it’s a good start. If you haven’t introduced Filipino to your child, he will go through an adjustment period. He might not even converse with it… but it’s a big step when he understands it when you use it.
Basta, practice lang ng practice.
label stuff with filipino words or phrases in the house
You can create flash cards, or even note cards where when your child sees it, he can associate concepts and objects with the Filipino words you want him to learn.
I bought myself several Tagalog flash cards to help him practice. So I’d put the flash card near, for example, a book he’s fond of… so that he gets that “libro” equals book. Start with items or objects in the home that your child is already familiar with. That way, the learning process cuts in half.
INVEST IN LEARNING MATERIALS THAT PROMOTE THE USE OF FILIPINO
I learned about Buksan PH a few months back who were kind enough to send me a bunch of worksheets that I can work on with Yñigo!
Buksan PH was created by a team of two educators who want to help children develop a love for Philippine languages. They aim to create learning materials in many Philippine languages. I spent weeks teaching Yñigo with their learning materials - all carefully & thougtfully made, starting with lessons on how to say your name, your age, where you live [and a whole lot more] in Filipino.
Recently, they released the Buksan Flashcards - created to help children learn words in Philippine languages. The flashcards are for children of all ages. It is designed to help parents and teachers teach new words to their children and students. Currently, the flashcards are available in Filipino. There are 4 different sets:
Set A: Counting, Gender, Emotions, Family, Common Phrases, Body Parts, Colors, Shapes
Set B: Objects, Clothing, Places, Transportation, Community Helpers
Set C: Fruits, Vegetables, Nature, Animals
Set D: Adjectives, Verbs, Food, Weather
The flashcards are divided into 4 sets: Set A, Set B, Set C, and Set D.
Each set has 60+ flashcards.
Each flashcard has an image and a word on the front side. The same word is on the back side and there is a question included that can be asked by the parent or teacher.
So there you go. Just a few tips you can get your kids to love Filipino. Fostering a love of Filipino in your kid instills with them a sense of individualization, belongingness, a sense of pride and love for our roots.
There are so many other ways to do it… but for now, these are easy, quick steps you can start on. Eventually, they’ll get there. If you’re reading this & know other ways to promote the love for this beautiful language, write it down below!