SEARCH the Related FSW Canada Topics HERE!

20 January 2016

Do We Need To Preserve Our Native Language in Canada?

TOM enjoying the snow.

Every time I meet fellow immigrants, usually Filipinos, with kids who doesn't speak and understand Filipino (Tagalog) language,  I always ask myself, WHY?

It's understandable if one parent is not a Filipino.  But if both parents are Filipino and their kids don't speak and understand the native tongue, it's surprising!

I even have friends back in the Philippines who have English-speaking kids who don't understand and speak Tagalog. Well, it's their way of parenting.

What's the Issue if Kids Can't Speak the Native Tongue?
I can't help but ask some parents that have children who don't speak Filipino anymore.  A father told me that he regret having their kids speak English at home.  After four months of not speaking Filipino, their children doesn't speak and understand the native language anymore.

Another father said that he was encouraged by the teacher to always speak English at home for the reason that the child can easily cope up in school.

These fathers were immigrants 5 and 10 years ago. What I thought was that the teachers haven't detected the problem at that time yet.

All Kids Can Be Multilingual
Based on my personal experience, I can speak three languages.  One is the dialect from my province, the other two are Tagalog and English.

If I was not trained by my sister to speak our dialect at home while we were in Manila, I could have lost it forever.

I can tell that kids can be multilingual because all my classmates and schoolmates in Visayas region, can speak three languages (Bisaya, Tagalog, and English).

The reason why they can speak Tagalog while they were in Visayas region was because their parents talk to them in Tagalog at home.  Not only Tagalog, but some can speak Ilonggo.  That sometimes can be in 4 languages.

When I moved to Manila, I found friends that can still speak their dialects fluently because of the same reason.

That is why I believe that kids can be multilingual in any place.

Do We Really Need to Preserve the Native Language in Canada? 
Canada has racially diverse population.  For us, Filipinos, we gather together when there are celebrations like Christmas, birthdays, and other special occasions.

It is in this moment that kids gather together and play while parents discuss current events and gossips in their native tongue.

Kids who don't understand the Filipino language can not converse with the oldies.

When families travel back to the Philippines on a vacation and have a chance to meet their relatives (young and old), their children can't communicate well with their friends and cousins.

When we were at a Walmart in Toronto, a Filipino lady came to me and said, "I was surprised to hear your son spoke Tagalog, it's pretty rare nowadays."

What Our Kid's Teacher Say About It?
We were worried about our 3-year old son that he can't cope up with school because of the language barrier.  In the Philippines, we talked to him in Tagalog and decided to do the same here in Canada.

When he started going to school, we asked his teacher about how to train him to speak English at home. His teacher gave us a surprising advice...

She told us to continue what we're doing - talk to him in the native tongue.  He will develop his language skills through exposure with other kids of his age by going to the school, library, playground, and the likes. Eventually, our TOM will cope up with the language problem.

If that's the case, we were right all along.

Today, even if it's not perfect, TOM can now speak basic English with his friends and classmates.  He got used to speaking Tagalog at home and English in school.  He knows how to change the setting well.  We found it cute when we hear him speak like Canadians do, but without the "Eh!" for now.

By the way, his school has Italian and French lessons at his early age. Now, he leads the prayer before meal in Italian :)

We still talk to him in Tagalog, preserving our Filipino Language.

What do you think?  Please leave a comment below.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Ben Alagnam - MeMovingToCanada