Buenos dias a todos,
In a past article, I wrote about the number of years I have lived in Spain which is over 20 now. I am married to an Española and we have two sons. My eldest is 17 and the youngest is 8. Both are “mestizo” looking, fair-skinned, at sabi nga nang mga kababayan ko dito eh, puede daw mag-artista ang mga anak ko kung dadalhin ko sa Filipinas. One even said that they could be my “retirement plans”
Well, seriously speaking now. What I wish to discuss today is about language. And I am going to use once again my sons as my examples. Both speak Spanish and English (their second language) and little by little, I am teaching them bits and pieces of Tagalog expressions. While my wife speaks to them in Spanish, I communicate to them in English. And since the moment they were born, I had only used English as my mode of conversation with my children. The result is obvious, they are bilingual. Some people in the same situation as I am, married to a foreign national, asked how I made my sons speak both languages. I gave the same answer to all of them. Consistency. Which means that I have always spoken English and have not used a single Spanish to anyone nor I translate any word. If at some point I am not understood, I repeat the word/s and I wait until they “discover” what I am talking about. At the same time, I would add that the environment has a lot of influence during their language learning process. My wife and I had always spoken English with each other ever since we met. There is therefore a consistent bilingual atmosphere at home my children are growing up in and I think it helps a lot. Our communication example to my children have actually reinforced the learning process.
Children learn by association, example, consistency and repetition. They normally associate the word they hear to the object it symbolizes. Eventually they retain the word/s in their brain and grow up living with two languages which eventually become a normal reality for them. This is my experience and I think that Filipinos married to a non-english speaking national of whatever country could likewise employ the same method. Well, I am just relating my method that is meeting positive result. I think the same outcome is in the offing if others heed the same approach.
I know of Filipinos married to Spanish yet I hear the majority of them speaking Spanish to their kids. And I think it is a mistake. As much as they are denying their children to learn what is considered the universal language, moreover, they are robbing them of the opportunity to strengthen their potentials in this competitive multi-lingual world.
Just a thought. A great day to everyone….Eric