By the time Olivia has spoken her first word, I had an internal debate as to what language should I speak to her ? Should I engage her in English or Filipino? Should I enforce our entire household to speak to her in one language only so that she will not get confused ?
English Only ?
Social media added to the pressure in making English as a mother language to children. I become insecure how kids nowadays could speak English well (sometimes better than their parents). In birthday parties, I’d feel awkward because my daughter does not speak English like other kids her age. It makes me feel like a bad parent for not exerting any effort to do so. Or, badly put, a parent who is very self-conscious to speak it.
My husband and I deliberated on this. We did come to an agreement of speaking English to Olivia. But, we always end up speaking in Tagalog (or Taglish — a parenting guilt).
The only time I speak in English is when we read a story; or when playing pretend kitchen and tea time. Sometimes when I give her simple instructions, I say it in simple English. But when it comes to explaining things, I just say it in Tagalog instead.
Why Not Tagalog ?
My parents talk to me in Filipino while I was young, therefore, I don’t see anything wrong if we talk to our daughter in the same language. Since we don’t speak English often, I no longer require my daughter’s yaya to speak it. I gave her the free will to speak in the language she is comfortable with. Ergo, my daughter speaks better in the vernacular.
Oddly, I find it cute when she speaks the native tongue. She would blurt out phrases like “O, di ba?” ,” Luto tayo.”, “Hindi pa, mamya na lang.” or “San na? Ay ito pala.” She’s even more adorable when singing “Bahay Kubo” and “Leron, Leron, Sinta”.
Which is Better ?
Some parents presume that if their kids speak English at home, they would perform better in school. Moreover, it’s believed that they would have an edge in their future. But, what if they have Filipino based subjects ? Would they perform as well as in English subjects ?
If they got stuck in speaking English exclusively, how would they be able to converse to manong jeepney driver? To aling tindera in the market ? To kuya magtataho?
Sometimes, I don’t understand why we have to stress ourselves to converse in pure English with our kids. Do we have to throw the Filipino language aside? Has it become a secondary or more inferior language nowadays ? Does purely speaking in English automatically elevate our status in Philippine society ?
When we go to another country, they speak their mother tongue, so I don’t see why we should do it differently here.
Choosing the Language
There is nothing wrong if we have mastery in two or more languages. In my opinion, it’s unfair to make one language superior over the other, may those languages be English, Mandarin, French or Filipino.
In our case, we would be speaking to Olivia in whatever language we are all comfortable with, regardless if it would be in Filipino or English. I reckon she would become more expressive if she is not restricted to speak in only one language. When the time comes she would enter school, I think she would be able to connect better with other kids since she could converse in both languages.
We would continue to learn together in English. Concurrently, we’d carry on our exploring the world in Filipino.