They say that kids as young as they were born can respond to the rhythm of language. As they get older, they can distinguish language sounds and by the time they are six months old, they can make sounds in different languages.
My first language was English and I only started learning Filipino when I was around five or six years old. When I had kids, my inclination was teaching them English first (although this was an issue with the husband before). Now that my kids are past the toddler stage, I am starting to teach them Filipino, especially with my eldest.
Filipino is among the subjects in Kinder curriculum, so before our eldest started school, we started to teach her basic Filipino words. She struggled at first, but she told me that her teacher translated everything first since most of them don’t speak in Filipino. As of this writing, my daughters are slowly learning the language and here’s what we did:
1) Start with simple words.
This is the first thing we did in teaching Filipino to our kids. We started with counting and saying the alphabet in Filipino. Then, we moved on to body parts and simple greetings. We don’t want to complicate things yet, so the simpler, the better.
Tip: Translate, translate, and translate. This is a simple but effective way to help kids learn the language sans the quizzical looks.
2) Go for dual language books. At first, I was hesitant to buy books in Filipino since my kids won’t be able to understand it. When I had a privilege of checking out Buribox from Adarna House (READ: Our First Buribox Experience), I was happy to see that it included books in dual languages (Powerbooks also carry books from Adarna House). I let my eldest read the English text while I read the Filipino text to translate.
It didn’t exactly teach my kids how to speak in Filipino, but it did help in exposing them about another language. It also helped that my kids know how to read already, so they can appreciate Filipino more.
3) Yay for FREE printable Filipino worksheets.
I love printables, more so if they are free. It helps me supplement learning during our Study Time, plus I can re-use them all over. It also gives me an opportunity to teach them in advance, which is an advantage.
I used to make my own printables, but it can be time consuming. Thankfully, I saw this website that offers a lot of free printables, so I took advantage of it. I found worksheets on patinig, parts of the body, and reading. I also found some stories and worksheets on shapes, which my kindergartener enjoyed answering. Tip: To avoid printing, place the sheets in a clear book and use a whiteboard marker for writing. Erase then re-write.
4) Review and practice everyday.
My daughter always bring her notebooks home. Since Filipino is a challenge for her, we make it a point to review her lessons everyday. I make use of the notes given by her teacher then supplement it with the printables I found online. Thankfully, my daughter is always eager and willing to learn, so it wasn’t a tug of war when we review Filipino.
Repetition is key and as cliche as it sounds, it is still effective.
5) Speak the language.
They say practice makes perfect. That’s true. When it comes to learning the Filipino language, practice definitely helped our daughter not only read and say the words but understand what they actually mean.
Apart from reviewing her lessons, we make it a point to talk to her in Filipino. We apply the lessons she learned such as greetings or parts of the body, so she can easily remember the words. We would often quiz our kids about the Filipino word for a particular English word and teach them new words depending on what they see.
Tip: If you want to master two languages at the same time, designate one parent for each language. Let the child talk to each parent on that particular language only. This will help the child master both languages at the same time.
Our daughters are still not that fluent with Filipino, but they are slowly learning – and we’re happy with the progress. With constant practice and always speaking the language, they will surely master Filipino in no time.
Ayi is a stay-at-home mom of two. When her kids are in their best state, she keeps up with chores, work, and ensuring that her sanity is intact. Join her as she navigates through this rollercoaster ride called motherhood.