Bilingual children

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

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