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5 Reasons every Filipino child should be able to speak Filipino

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I came across this article in Yahoo this morning that prompted me to write a new post after a month of managing the overwhelming response to this blog. Thanks to all the readers who have sent comments, e-mail messages and phone calls in support of this blog’s advocacy.

Last year, the school had a parent seminar about a hot topic — Dual Language. In the Philippines, it has become a problem of epic proportion that children DO NOT SPEAK the Filipino language well, if at all. For the purpose of this post, I only write about Tagalog (when in fact there are 200 dialects in the country that we can choose from!)

In my point of view, it is more of a parenting issue than anything else. In the country, speaking Tagalog is viewed as “baduy” or “inferior” by the middle- and upper-class. Parents would rather have their children speaking in English because they feel that their children would be more advanced in society. It’s really bragging rights, people. I’ve seen parents telling their children’s caregivers and teachers NOT to speak to their children in Tagalog. They have gone to the extreme in even questioning the celebration of Linggo ng Wika!

These parents (unless you’re one of them) do not know what their children are missing. Teacher Ani Almario of the Raya School, our speaker for last year’s event, discussed her study on Dual Language in children. Her study showed that children using the mother tongue and using 2 or more languages, had higher cognitive levels than their peers.

If you read Dina Ocampo’s study on the Mother Tongue Education, you will notice that she does not remove English in instruction all together but rather encourages that both languages be taught in the early years. What are we afraid of, parents? That our children will not succeed in life as well as their English-speaking counterparts? Promoting English as their main language now does not necessarily mean that they will be cognitively advanced.. they can just speak with a “twang” which boosts our ego as parents.

What are the effects of this parenting nuisance? I can name 5 ( but I’m sure there’s more)..

1. Children in this generation can hardly speak Filipino, much so READ it. I will bet my teaching profession that if we test middle- to upper- income elementary students in Filipino, they will fail. Why? Because they don’t speak it!

2. The recent death of former Corazon Aquino woke up dormant nationalism in our country. However, for parents, you may love the Philippines but you don’t love the country’s language. You may teach your children the value of nationalism but if you do not encourage the speaking of the national language then our value is half-baked. Practice what you preach!

3. If no one is reading in Filipino, how can our Filipino literature flourish? Our preschool students can easily listen to an English story but are having a hard time listening when an Adarna book is being read.

4. When you cannot listen in Filipino, most of what is happening around the child is not understood. I cannot stress this enough. CHILDREN WHO SPEAK IN ENGLISH AND FILIPINO, speak better and faster. I have seen preschool kids who learned how to speak earlier in their life because they can understand everything going on around them and they can respond to it.

5. Since progressive education is socio-culturally based, we progressive teachers would want to teach based on the culture that we belong to. We have a difficult time teaching Filipino and Sibika to students who do not care for the language. And if we want to avoid Filipino and Sibika all together then we should all enroll our children in international schools.

Why am I writing this post in English? Because admittedly, I will have a more difficult time writing it in Filipino.

And you have to admit that you will have a more difficult time reading it!!

To encourage you further.. how can your child be president if he/she can’t speak Filipino? Learn from Cory. She came from the upper class and was educated in Manila, the US and France. Yet, when she addresses the Filipino people, she speaks fluent Filipino. Can you say the same for yourself and your child?

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