Filipino Language,  home school,  Parenting,  tips

Filipino as a Second Language

Before I became a mom, I worked in the outsourcing industry for about 7 years. During this time, I’ve known and interviewed a lot (and I mean a LOT) of people who could have been hired, except that they were not able to express themselves well in English. In college, I made extra cash from teaching English as a Second Language to Koreans, most of my students wanted to study the language to enhance their careers. 

When we had Sofie, we didn’t want her to have the same problem, regardless of what field she may want to get into when she’s older, so we taught her to speak in English. The rationale was, when she’s old enough to attend school, she’ll be able to learn Filipino anyway. This theory would have worked except that her school uses English to teach preschool and almost everywhere we go, specially in urbanized areas, you can hear kids speaking in fluent English instead of Filipino. At home we can not watch a Filipino program without my daughter needing an interpreter. Imagine Going Bulilit translated in English, we don’t know whether to laugh first and translate after or vice versa.  
Hubby and I are very much Filipino at heart, given options we always opt for supporting Pinoy made products instead of imported ones. We prefer to live and stay in the Philippines, despite opportunities to go abroad. So why then, does our only daughter have a neutral American accent? Yun na!  Nag Soft-skills training!

A star, a bunny for support and a reward for a job well done!
Since we didn’t want her to have a problem understanding Filipino in school, we even considered hiring a Filipino tutor. Of course, after thinking about it I had to mentally smack my behind! A kid with two Filipino parents does not need a Filipino tutor. And if I was able to teach English to Koreans without having a common language with them, I’ll be darned if I can’t get my kid to speak Filipino. 

We are currently using these methods to teach our kid Filipino as a Second Language. 

1. Reading bilingual books. Thank God for Adarna Bilingual books, which we now read in two languages, as opposed to before when we only read the English translations. There are many resources in National Bookstore and Filipino books are even cheaper that the English ones. 

2. Declaring “Tagalog Day”. We do this once a week, although it still a Tag-lish day at this point since Sofie only knows a handful of  words like “Opo”, “Hindi po”, “Salamat”, “Walang anuman” and “Tubig”. We know she can understand a bit already since she often joins the conversation when her Dad and I speak in Filipino even if she answers in English. It’s not much but it’s a start, baby steps. 

3. Filipino Activities / Worksheets. Even though she is already attending regular school, we still do home school at least 3 times a week. We implement “No TV Days”, so this is a good way to spend time, since we do not have a big space for her to run around. I found some Filipino worksheets from TheGoMom, although her materials are for grade school kids and we can not use them for Sofie yet, I love it since I can brush up on my own Filipino as well. For Sofie, I use preschool worksheets found online, they’re in English but I translate them in Filipino and print them out. I’ll check for copyright information first and when I have enough, I’ll post them here. 
In hindsight, although we would still want our daughter to speak English fluently, we would also have taught her to speak Filipino and Cebuano for that matter. Now, we speak to her in both languages as much as possible, when we speak to her in Filipino, we also translate in English. So yes, I repeat almost everything I say more often than usual. Paulit-ulit! Paulit-ulit!

Such are the struggles of the first-born child, they always end up as experimental subjects of mom and dad’s “parenting skills”. Good thing, she is open to the challenge and often asks me what this word or that means in Filipino, Cebuano and sometimes even in Chinese and SpaMish. (Yup, SpaMish with an M!)

We are not Chinese or Spanish, we do not speak either language, so I only have Kailan and Dora to blame for that bit.


  • Pepper Tan

    Funny… I was just on theGoMom yesterday, checking out her Filipino worksheets. I was reviewing my daughter for her exams today.

    My daughter also finds it more difficult to express herself in English. She admits that her Filipino subject in school is driving her to the edge of insanity.

    It's good that you have Tagalog day. Practice makes perfect, I guess.

    Hmmm… maybe there should be a Tagalog counterpart for Dora and Kailan. Or is there one already which I don't know?

  • Witchy Crazy Mommy

    @Pepper – Thanks for dropping by. I really hope these work before my kid goes to grade school. There's a Tagalog version of Dora in ABS CBN, but my daughter says she finds Dora strange daw, so she still watches the Nick version hihi

  • Spanish Pinay

    I'm really glad you are doing your part to teach her Filipino. In my case, I am really TH in teaching my daughter our mother language. She's half Filipina and I want her to be able to converse with our family in Manila. Even though my family can speak English, I still want my daughter to learn Filipino as I really want her to embrace her roots. Right now, she understands almost everything I tell her in Filipino. I have tried really hard (pero mahirap ha) to talk to her in Filipino ever since she was a baby until now so I'd say at 2yrs old, she's already bilingual. Baliktad tayo, english naman ang hope namin na matutunan nya by the time she starts in school.. so I'll be in your position naman when she starts school… yun lang instead of teaching her Filipino, I'll be teaching her english… good luck sa atin! 🙂

    Spanish Pinay

  • TheGoMom

    Thanks for the link back witchy crazy mom! My kids are having so much difficulty in Filipino as well. I'm trying to do bilingual to my 1 year old son but I'm getting a bit paranoid because of the speech delays 2 languages can cause. But I read eventually he will catch up and that the benefits of a second language outweighs temporary speech delay but you know motherhood paranoia…:-)