Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Raising A Bilingual Child

I am a good Filipino speaker. But like most young parents today, my husband and I opted to speak to our children in English. I can't think now of why we decided to do that in the first place. I just know that I felt a bit queasy every time my daughter spoke and sounded like she lived in a country other than her own. To top it off,  I was also getting tired of translating for her when she could not understand what people were saying. In her own country.

The use of English as a Filipino child's first language is widespread. School children are flunking their Filipino subjects and many are now enrolled in tutorial services or remedial classes. Imagine not knowing your own language! Imagine not being able to think in your own language! 

The realization that we were putting our children's identity at risk made me and my husband decide to rectify our mistake. We made some rules that helped Little T become fluent in Filipino. Little Sir, on the other hand, issues some of his commands in the language. Yey!

Raising A Bilingual Child

The Learning Basket, together with The Learning Library, has a free parenting seminar called "How To Make Reading An Effective and Lasting Habit." First held on July 28, and blogged about by Teacher Mama Tina here, we staged a repeat just last Saturday, August 25. The recently-concluded event had an additional talk called "Raising A Bilingual Child" and generated a lot of questions from the parent-participants. 

Storytelling and activity for the kids during the event

I was pleased to hear our speaker, The Learning Library Manager Vanessa Bicomong, mention some of the strategies that my husband and I also use to ensure that our children grow up speaking Filipino like the natives that they are.

Surround Your Children With Speakers    Little T has a group of friends who speak Filipino really well. In addition, we also asked our household help to speak to the children only in Filipino.

Set A Place For Using The Language     My husband is adamant that we speak Filipino in public places. He felt like he was in the Twilight Zone one time that he was in the grocery and all he heard around him was English. 

Read Books     Since our "conversion," I've been on a hunt for good local children's books. To further our learning and enjoyment, I (together with my friend Sanne) also created unit studies or study guides on several titles. Check out my Downloads page or my previous blog post as I am offering those for free!

Watch Out For The Next Run Of The Event

Vanessa has many more practical tips and advice, not only about making your child a fluent Filipino speaker, but also on making reading a part of your lives. Sharon Marasigan, a parent-participant who I asked for feedback about the first seminar, said that it was "truly helpful, informative, and practical." 

We are already planning the next sessions, and I am hoping that you can join us for a few hours of learning for your children. Leave your email address below or join my mailing list if you want to be informed of the next venues (San Juan and Serendra) and schedule. 

Let us not make our children a stranger in their own country. Let us allow and help our children to speak their native tongue.

Make magic!

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Mariel @ The Learning Basket said...

Hi Chris! Won't Serendra work for you? :)

Chris said...

I hope that you will bring your seminar here in the South too!! :D Maybe Alabang or Santa Rosa :) 

Mariel @ The Learning Basket said...

Hi Noria! I'll inform you when we have finalized our schedule already. The talk is really about promoting reading at home, and the bilingual talk is just a short addition to it. I hope it will also give you some insights for your work. :)

Noria P. Adam-Lim said...

This is interesting. I was just talking to two of my closest teacher friends about the challenges and benefits of being multilingual while learning concepts. I hope you can invite Special Education Philippines in your next seminar so I can share what we talked about with you guys. :)