Growing up, I learned Tagalog through my everyday conversations but admittedly, I loved English more. I would choose Dickens over Balagtas. When I pondered why, I realized it’s because English was living for me. Filipino was not. My Nanay filled our home with books, ranging from novels to Christian books to encyclopedias. Our family car had lots of cassette tapes of fairy tales and Sunday School songs. All of these are in English. I soared in my grades in English but I did not fare that well in Filipino, especially in high school when the novels were part of the required readings. It’s ironic that in the Philippines, Filipino kids are not taught our beautiful language in a manner that is interesting and living for them.
When I passed UPCAT, I chose Linguistics. I initially did not know what I will learn but I know it will be about language. I am in love with language especially how one speaker can mix and match words to convey meaning. I love how it evolves over time and how speakers of the same language interpret certain words differently. When I was studying Linguistics, I realized how important languages are. Language is Culture.
Cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects. It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.“ (UNESCO)
When a people group stops using a language, their culture starts to diminish. Imagine Philippines with diminishing oral traditions, no Filipino plays or people who do not know what binatog is. Filipino parents should teach children our language not only for good grades, but to preserve what we have for the generations to come.
The English language is very fortunate. It has multiplied itself in different nations. Its written documents are extensive. This language is celebrated throughout the world, especially in the digital age. Filipino is not as lucky. We have only a number of Filipino publishers. Worse, our own people do not speak the language.
Unfortunately, in my daughter’s generation, the speakers of Tagalog are decreasing in number. The ironic part is, Filipino kids who do not speak Filipino reside in the Philippines. This is why I am motivated to teach my daughter our beautiful language one step at a time. She is not as sharp in Filipino as she is in English, even if that’s the language we use at home. I am going with her pace in learning the language.
Even before I start sharing practices to teach the language, I want to take the burden off of my daughter’s shoulders to be the epitome of a Tagalog-speaking Filipino kid. She is loving the language one step at a time as I gently introduce it to her. One sure way of killing the desire of a child to learn Filipino is to force it with drills and writing. I want my child to love learning it.
I will be sharing some practices I learned from my studies in Linguistics and from my experience as a TESOL certified teacher and as a Tagalog language teacher. After my short time as a HR personnel, I went to teach Tagalog in a language school for missionaries. In our school, I was able to teach speakers of varied languages. I taught our beautiful language to Americans, Russians, Germans, Koreans, Aussies and so on. It’s a joy to hear them speak our language. We teach them from zero to advanced level. The goal is for them to learn to converse in the language, compose a life-giving message and be confident to preach God’s message in the language. Their heart is to minister to Filipinos.
In spite of my professional background in language teaching, I still do not consider myself an expert of the language. In the coming weeks, I will be sharing some practices on how to teach our language to our children. The succeeding entries here are my daughter’s journey to learn our language one step at a time.