In the words of the Philippines’ National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, “Ang hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika ay higit pa sa hayop at malansang isda.” This popular quote, which you might remember from your elementary Filipino teachers, is one whose message cannot be stressed enough. Although you also can’t deny the advantages of learning to speak English, it’s just as important, if not more important, to master your mother tongue. The key to raising children that are fluent in Filipino lies within your household. It is crucial that your home is one that actively supports the importance and use of the language. We’ve rounded up a few tips you can follow to ensure your home raises children who speak in Filipino and speak it loud and proud!
It is no secret that the earlier you expose your child to a language, the easier it will be for them to learn and master. You don’t have to be afraid of confusing them if you are already speaking to them in a different language such as English or another Filipino dialect. There have been numerous studies that suggest exposure to two languages during this time would result in improved problem solving skills and creativity.
Although sometimes it can’t be helped at times when we can’t find the exact translation, try your best to speak in full Filipino sentences and expect the same of your child. This allows them to practice sentence construction on top of a growing vocabulary. When you are with family and friends and who speak the language fluently, ask them to speak to your child in Filipino sometimes for the additional practice and exposure.
Filipino talent can be found is every possible creative medium. Do a little research and suggest age-appropriate material you think your child would enjoy, such as Filipino movies, children’s shows, and OPM, to name a few. Listening to these media platforms is actually an active process that is vital to learning any language. They show variation in the way the words are used and pronounced, enabling your child to learn from a larger variety of sources.
It is important to be a good example to your kids of someone who is proud to speak, write, and read in Filipino. Choose a story that would interest your child and encourage questions in case there are some phrases that are not as easy to understand. Try and make this activity as animated as possible and continue the discussion in Filipino after the reading. This is a chance for you to practice what you preach and display your experienced pronunciation!
The ability to converse fluently is already a great feat, but we recommend continuing the learning process by introducing more difficult words into their vocabulary. You can start with a single word every two weeks and build your way up to two words per week. Make it a game by challenging them to use the word in casual conversation and provide simple rewards when done right. If your children are visual learners, you can try printing out a photo of each concept with the Filipino word and posting it somewhere they frequent.
This tip is one for the future where travel restrictions are a thing of the past. Choose one of the many local destinations rich in Filipino tradition for your next family getaway. By visiting historical sites, trying new cuisines, and experiencing Filipino culture firsthand, you boost their excitement and encourage their desire to learn more. If they are old enough, involve your kids in the planning process to ensure that the itinerary is packed with activities that interest them!