Why We Prefer English

18 October 2012

When my eldest son came to this world and completed our family, one of the first things his pediatrician asked us was... "what do you want for your child as his first language, English o Tagalog?" I was a bit confused when it came to this matter. Eversince, even when I was still single, I always thought that "it should" be Tagalog since we live in the Philippines. It has become a requirement for the simple fact that we are Filipinos.
Filipino ka, mag Tagalog ka.

Hard truth, it doesn't go that way all the time.

When I met my husband and discovered that he  had a different upbringing with English as his main language, I didn't find anything wrong or awkward about it.

My husband being a good example, grew up in an English based environment. He lived in Cubao, Quezon City his whole life, but when you hear him talk, it seems like he came from another country. He explained to me how his parents trained and made it easy for him and his siblings to adapt to the English language. Later on, when he started school in Ateneo, Filipino subject was introduced, and same thing, learning Tagalog came easy as acquiring English.

You need to become a parent in order to understand why we want our children to speak in English.
As the child blooms from an infant to becoming a toddler and a pre-schooler, as parents, we are bound to choose a primary language that will aid our child/ children in the developmental process.
It serves as a foundation as they learn to talk from uttering a word to a full sentence. Age 0- 6 years/ preschool stage is the most critical in terms of development because it is the absorbent stage. The child starts to build his own foundation as a "person". The child gets information, influence and inspiration from the people, places and events that surrounds him. They pick up almost everything. They mimic and most of the time, they apply it instantly.
Environment plays a big role. Since my husband grew up with English being his first language, we both agreed to apply the same thing with our kids. In other words, in our family, the English setting is already there. With that, it's easier for our kids to adapt.
Based on my experience as a parent for 8 years, I considered several factors to a successful adaptation of the English language and an easy transition to Tagalog.
Home-  Is the home environment change- friendly? When you say change- friendly, it means if the whole atmosphere of the house or the flow within the family itself is open for change. It doesn't stick with one routine. My son speaks in English, but he can talk a little Tagalog and understands it. At home we are slowly shifting our routine, since my eldest is already a big boy he is bound to see and experience the real world, we want him to adapt easily like everyone else.
School- This is considered to be a big factor on choosing and enhancing what "you think" is best for your child. The social environment plays a big role. For example: My son Frankie goes to a private school near Ateneo. With that, we all know the type of kids he mingles with. Yes, the first word you'll hear from Frankie's friends is English. But mind you, they all also know how to speak in Tagalog whenever they want and they can understand Tagalog too.
Social/ Community- It all starts at home. If the home environment holds a strong foundation and if it allows change and flexibility on a natural approach, then the influence coming from different people and communities our child will be exposed to are not going to be harmful to his over-all personality and development.
Activities both at home and in school- This will focus on what the children watch on television, the sports and games they play, the books they read and even the food they eat. All of these supports  and influence how the child will set his mind and connect it with his manner of speaking.
There are benefits when one will use English as his first language.
  • It builds up the confidence of a confident person even more.
  • It's great with meeting new friends.
  • Reality, we're going global, English being the "universal language", when it comes to interacting with other people from another country is easier.
As parents, we are not only thinking of the benefits our children will get from the present, but also what the future can give them. Realistically speaking, when you talk good English, meaning the right one too, you'll be noticed. You will definitely stand out. It's a building block on having a good future.

The English language doesn't make you less of a Filipino. You're still Pinoy.
Nobody can dictate to us parents what is right for our children.

 There's nothing wrong if we want our children to speak fluent English.
We will always embrace our culture and traditions as Filipinos.
With my children, I'm proud to say: "that's pure Filipino blood running inside the body of a good speaker."

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