First things first. I am pure Filipino. For some reason, I grew up learning the English language first and started speaking in Filipino when I was around six years old. I hate to admit this but I speak and write better in English than in Filipino. When I had kids, my inclination was to talk to them in English first and teach them Filipino as soon as they mastered the language.
Yes, I enjoy hearing my kids speak in English (with matching American or British accent, depending on their mood) and find it cute when they speak in Filipino, When my eldest started with big school where Filipino is a mandatory subject, I realized how much she struggled with it. I realized that I should’ve taught Filipino first or at least mixed both so my kids can easily adapt to whatever language.
This led me to this concern: what should be the child’s first language?
Some of my co-parents in my daughters’ school felt that Filipino should be the first language. Some taught their kids English and Filipino at the same time while others believe it should be English first since learning Filipino will come easily since it is our native tongue. I asked fellow mom bloggers about this as well and here’s what they have to say:
English Only, Please
Mommy Anna‘s son learned English first, although her’s was an accident. Her son was exposed to watching English shows like Disney Junior and Baby TV, which made it easier for her son to learn English.
It’s the same for Mommy Jinkee of Live Life Fullest. She believes that a child can easily adapt in English. At the same time, exposure to English cartoons made her son learn English first instead of Filipino. Nonetheless, she shared the Filipino and Hekasi became challenging because these subjects were taught in Filipino.
Mommy Jen of Shop Girl Jen taught English first to her eldest daughter and started learning Filipino by the time she entered Grade 1. At 11, she can converse in both English and Filipino, depending on the person she’s talking to.
For Mommy Romel of Qarah Moments, they taught English first since they are homeschooling. It would be easier for her teach subjects like Math and English if her kids know and understand the English language first. Eventually, they taught Filipino. Daily conversations and playing with other kids made it easier for her kids to learn Filipino.
Mommy Kim of Mom on Duty taught English first as well. She admitted that her kids had a hard time learning Filipino and said that they should’ve exposed them to both languages early on.
The kids of Mommy Serene of The Super Momma learned English first due to Disney channels. The community where her kids are growing up are also exposed to using English, which made it easier for her kids to interact. Nonetheless, she admitted that her kids had a hard time with their Filipino subjects, but she never regretted teaching them English first.
Mommy Jhanis of The Missus V used English first with her kids and at 7 and 13, they are proficient in the said language. She likewise admitted that she wasn’t able to expose her kids in Filipino and their local dialect, and should’ve exposed them to these as well from the beginning.
Mommy Gwen of The Blissful Bloom communicates with her child in English, although she inserts Filipino words from time to time. Her reason for teaching English first is that she wants her child to become confident in speaking in English early on. She also believe that it would be easy for her child to learn Filipino especially when she starts going to school.
In other words, learning English first was not just a choice but also incidental since their kids were exposed to watching English shows like Disney Junior, Nickelodeon, and Baby TV.
Mommy Mhaan of Mommy Rockin’ In Style talks to her son in English and Filipino. Still, she is putting more emphasis on Filipino since this is the primary language used in UP where she intends her son to attend.
Mommy Kat of Petite Momma used English (since she is homeschooling) and Filipino, but she imposed Filipino as their primary language especially at home. Learning Filipino first made it easier for her son to talk to different people from all walks of life. It is also easier for her to talk to her son in Filipino since he is used to the said language.
Teach them Both
There are moms who taught English and Filipino (and other languages too!) at the same time. Take the case of Mommy Marielle. She wants her son to be proficient with both English and Filipino, so she talked to him in both languages. Mommy Nini also teaches English (due to exposure to videos and TV shows) and Filipino.
Mommy Maan of A Joyful Mess also taught her son both languages to ensure that he will be able to communicate with everyone. Books, TV shows, and having foreigner playmates made it easier for her son to learn English as well, although she made sure that they speak Filipino most of the time.
Mommy Marilou of Berry Blog taught English and Filipino, as well as Fookien to her kids. She doesn’t believe that learning various languages at the same time won’t confuse the child. In fact, her stand is learning more languages is better since it gives the child an edge, especially in business or work. This is the same belief shared by Mommy Gerilen who teaches not just English and Filipino but also sign languages and Ilocano dialect. She believes that learning more languages tickles their brain and teaches them to become more flexible.
Mommy Mary of Boppy Happy blog also taught English and Filipino to help her son become better in communicating with people. After all, not everyone can speak in English or Filipino, and learning both languages will make it easier for him in terms of socialization.
Take note mommas that there is no right or wrong here. Teaching your kids a specific language first is YOUR CHOICE and PREROGATIVE as a parent. Choose a language you’re more comfortable with.
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.