I’m not really sure why we decided to speak to our son in English instead of Filipino. We never really talked about it but even as a newborn we were talking to him in English. There’s not much thought process that came with it. Not sure if it’s because of the nature of our work or how Westernized we’ve become. Anyway, I speak Filipino fluently but I remember struggling with Filipino as a subject in school. It should’ve been easy for me since it was my first language and I’d been using it in my everyday conversations. Until I started teaching it to my son. Boy, was it hard!
I found myself clarifying that baba has two meanings chin and go down and tayo has two meanings, too, us and stand up. It changes meaning depending on how you pronounce it. Then there’s ng that could mean anything. The semantics and nuances of our language is tricky at best. But I’m also rediscovering that it is a BEAUTIFUL language. c”,) Reading aloud to Timmy in Filipino has given me new appreciation for our native tongue.
It’s important that we have fun when when we learn something. I knew that Filipino will be challenging to teach so we didn’t do any sit down learning. Instead, we did the following things below. I also added M2M (Mom 2 Mom) tips for each activity!
Thank God for music! c”,) Teaching through music has worked for us across all subjects. One of the things I wanted Timmy to learn early was our National Anthem. I started singing it to him during bath time when he was three years old. I know it’s not the coolest bath song but it worked! Haha! He got it in a week or two. He liked it so much that he sang it even in the mall! Imagine a toddler in a stroller singing Lupang Hinirang. Haha! Here’s a video of him at 3.5 years old. c”,)
And then there’s YouTube, one of God’s greatest gifts to homeschoolers! Haha! c”,) I found YouTube user robie317 who makes simple and fun videos of Filipino songs with lyrics! Think karaoke of Tong tong pakitong kitong. So I created a playlist for Timmy that he watches during his 1 hour gadget time. c”,) He learned the songs quickly and even Dubsmash-ed them, too! Haha!
Singing Filipino songs prompts my son to ask questions about the meaning of certain words. It also increases his vocabulary in the process. c”,) And it’s really fun!
M2M Tip: Sing together! Join your child when he or she is watching Filipino YouTube videos. c”,)Create actions for the songs! Even if you are doing things differently, ask your child to sing with you! When I’m cooking I will ask Timmy to join me in singing Filipino songs while he’s playing! Having a “Leron Leron Sinta” duet at home is actually pretty cool! c”,)
Exposure to Filipino books is another way to teach our native tongue to our children. There are a lot of bilingual books available for kids! The key here is to get age-appropriate books. Most of them have age recommendations at the back cover so make sure you check them. I was actually tempted to buy alamat (folklore) books but they were too long and wordy. I will buy it eventually when he’s older. c”,) So far, Timmy loves all his Filipino storybooks! We have really good authors and illustrators! “Jepoy Dyip” is a blockbuster for us. I have yet to complete his set, though. c”,) Meanwhile, “Ay Naku!” and “Naaay! Taaay!” are so funny and entertaining to read!
“Si Hinlalaki” is one of Timmy’s all-time favorites and admittedly mine, too! First of all, it was written by Virgilio Almario, our National Artist for Literature. He also wrote “Ang Mabait na Kalabaw,” the first Filipino book that Timmy read. c”,) What I really love about “Si Hinlalaki” is how it tells the child the function of each finger in a fun way and how our hand can’t function fully if one of them is not there.
M2M Tip: Read aloud together! Don’t hesitate to read the same book over and over again. c”,) When Timmy first got his “Jepoy Dyip.” We read it every day for a couple of weeks! It really helped him understand certain Filipino words! Don’t get tired of translating. Try to use the words you read in Filipino in your conversations!
Conversing in Filipino and encouraging your child to respond the same way will help him or her learn the language faster. This prompted Timmy to ask me words in Filipino like “Mommy, what is later in Filipino?” I told him, “Mamaya.” Then he said, “Mommy, mamaya na lang?” I think I was asking him to clean up during that time. Haha! c”,)
M2M Tip: When your child responds in English, ask him or her to answer you in Filipino. Whenever Timmy would answer “yes” to a Filipino question, I would tell him “opo” and he would reply “opo.” c”,) Same goes for when he would answer “no,” I would tell him to answer “hindi po.” c”,) Use Filipino words in praising your child as well like “ang galing mo naman!” or sometimes in our case I’d tell him, “Ang bilis mo tumakbo ah! Galing!” c”,)
4. Use attractive supplement materials
Last year I joined a group buy to purchase Wikahon, a Filipino curriculum from Adarna. For the preschool level it has short stories with vocabulary usage. Timmy got really excited seeing these over-sized learning cards! We also write on them using whiteboard markers. c”,) Going through one story takes an hour for us. It truly stretches my patience but I try not to show my irritation. One day my husband told me, “Timmy likes it when you teach him Filipino.” I was pleasantly surprised! c”,) In my inner agitation to get the lesson done, I failed to see that the reason why Timmy was taking his time was because he was enjoying it! He would repeat certain words and joke around. One time we kept saying magtampisaw, magtampisaw, magtampisaw (to wade in the water). Haha! c”,)
We also subscribed to Adarna’s Buribox! It’s a monthly kit that has storybooks and activity sheets, adding lots of fun to our Filipino learning! c”,) It also comes with a parent’s guide on how to use the kit. When Timmy got it he immediately got attracted to the Buribox’s smiling face! c”,) Haha! We already used all the materials and even recycled some of them for different activities.
M2M Tips: You can also go DIY! Make small placards with Filipino words using colored papers and popsicle sticks. You can also make a one-page lapbook with colored papers laid out like a lift-a-flap page! c”,)
Don’t forget to include play in your activities! After we did his Ito Ako (This is Me) exercise, we used it to form goofy faces! c”,) We would invent Filipino songs and laugh while singing it! We play this game called Ilong, Ilong, Ilong (i.e. Nose, Nose, Nose) and then we point to a different part of the face or body while saying another part. I used to play that when I was a kid so it was good to pass it on to my child. c”,) In our homeschool coop, we once played patintero and luksong tinik! Introducing Filipino games is another way to get your child interested in learning the language!
M2M Tips: It’s important to let your child see that you are having fun, too! Kids copy what they see from adults. If you use Filipino words during play, day-to-day conversations, and praise (not just when reprimanding–I’m guilty of this), they will associate Filipino as something enjoyable and easy to use! c”,)
Hope these tips help you in teaching Filipino to your kids! You might even find the same renewed appreciation I found for our native language! See you in my next blog! c”,)