I have been struggling to raise my children to speak Tagalog. I accept my role in teaching them Tagalog, and accept responsibility for not being consistent. At times, I find it easier to talk to them in English because it seems less complicated.
I have discovered that despite conveying the same meaning, English sentences use less syllables than Tagalog sentences. Because of this, I am more partial to using English because my message is just delivered faster, and I get a quicker response.
Doing a chore:
Umakyat ka at kunin mo ang maduming damit. (14 syllables)
Go upstairs and get your dirty laundry. (10 syllables)
Asking about the temperature:
Mainit o malamig ( 7 syllables)
Hot or cold (3 syllables)
Talking about school:
Anong ginawa mo sa eskwela? (10 syllables)
What did you do in school? (6 syllables)
Both my children understand Tagalog. It is a stretch to say that they can express themselves in Tagalog, although they know enough nouns and verbs to be able to eavesdrop in Tagalog conversations.
Researchers say that second language acquisition starts at birth, but I am from the school of thought that it is never too late to start. I will just have to be more mindful of using Tagalog when I am with them.
My plan this summer is to make my children proficient in Tagalog. As I always say, “Everything is a skill; if you do it long enough, you will get better at it.”
Here is my 5-step plan. I created this plan with the basic knowledge of how infants learn how to talk. Immersing the children in the language you want them to learn is the basic premise for plan.
- Read Tagalog Books –Some bilingual books use what I call, Shakespearean Tagalog, or words that are very poetic. Great prose, but not necessarily used in daily conversation. Books like these, I would paraphrase using common Tagalog vocabulary.
- Play Games–This will help increase vocabulary words. Games like Bring Me, I Spy, even Memory Game with pictures labeled in Tagalog would be fun, challenging, and entertaining.
- Listen to Music–I used to teach in a school that taught Mandarin. When the lao sher (Chinese teacher) came for class, I would stay at the back of the room and catch up on writing notes to parents. Fifteen years later, I can still sing the songs in Chinese, and I wasn’t even paying attention. Because of the melody, the words are remembered longer.
- Have a playgroup or someone to converse with–A toddler who is just learning to talk may say, ball, to mean, “Get the ball”. The adult will be able to help the child express himself better by repeating the word, adding an adjective to the noun, and doing the action. The conversation may sound like this: Child: ball Adult: The blue ball (while getting). You want the blue ball? (while giving the child the ball) A regular conversation like this, will teach the child sentence construction, syntax, as well as, more vocabulary words.
- Visiting the Philippines–Being in a country where everyone speaks the language is the best way to learn the language, customs, and culture.
Walking the side street of Lipa City
A photo taken by my daughter of Boracay Beach