Sunday, June 27, 2004

English is not easy!

I have always encouraged my children to read. I don't mind much what they read, as long as they read. It may be a novel or a comic book as long as they get the habit of reading. This will hone their knowledge with the spoken word. They will not only learn correct grammar but even learn the nuances of the language through reading. This is important especially with our educational system where the medium of instruction is a language that is not their first tongue.

When my wife got pregnant with our first child, I was even contemplating on raising the child with english thinking she'll have an edge in school if she did. I ruled out the idea for several reasons. First, as non-native speakers of english, we are wont to commit mistakes and she just might pick these up. Secondly, not everybody in the house is adept with the language. There's the maid who will definitely massacre the language, there's the grandmother whose pronunciation of some words are far different from the correct way it is to be said. So too was I concerned about the neighbors, and most especially, the playmates. I wouldn't want my children to grow up without the benefit of having played with their contemporaries. Furthermore, the different language with which we are communicating with one another would confuse the child and may hamper her ability to talk at an early age. So, we opted to teach them the native language. It was easier for everybody that way.

True enough, they experienced some difficulty once they reached that age when they had to go to school. I could just imagine my children looking in awe at the teacher as she blabbered the lesson in an unknown tongue. During the time I was growing up, I remember my teachers urging us to speak only in English. We were collected a fine for every tagalog word spoken. I wonder if that is still being done today in some parochial schools. Not in the school where I work and where the children are studying, though.

Going back to reading. I was already becoming paranoid as it seems that none of my children will ever pick up the habit. It was a losing battle with the television and the computer. So, it came as a surprise when I saw my eldest son, Mickey, who was then about 11 years old, picking up a book and reading. It turned out he was to make a book report on the Iliad. So, picture this. I was trying to read my book while Mickey was reading his. Suddenly, I noticed he was looking blankly at the wall. I wondered what he was thinking. When he couldn't take it anymore, he asked, "Papa, ba't iyakin si Ulysses?" (Papa, why is Ulysses such a cry baby?) Puzzled, I said, "of course not! He's very very brave man!" "He couldn't be," said my son. "I always see this." As if to prove his point, Mickey showed me the passage he was reading. "Run to the ship!" Ulysses CRIED! Cute no?


Matapoor said...

I can already imagine how many questions my son would ask. He would have to deal with Tagalog, German and English.

Wow, reading Illiad at 11. Impressed ako!

Anonymous said...

Kids pick up languages fairly quickly when they're young. When I was 5, and my family moved to Manila, we spoke Ilonggo at home, English and Tagalog in school. I never confused the three. A little later, I had to learn french and italian. The only problem I have now is that my tagalog isn't very great. It was the only language that I least liked learning because most of the people I knew who spoke it would laugh and poke fun whenever I mispronounce words. It still happens, to this day, which is a pity because I would love to be able to speak it well.
You're right, encourage your child to read. That will build vocabulary and a strong foundation in grammar in any language. Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

I sent my daughter to a chinese school in her elementary days. In the house three languages are being used: Tagalog, Visayan and English. When she talks to me it's either of the three, when she talks to her dad, english is the spoken word, when she talks to the maid visayan is used. But when she watches television it will be either in tagalog, english or chinese movie. However, when it comes to reading, alas! it will be a fight. Reading habit is not one of the things she picked up from me nor from her dad or brother. She reads only when it is necessary like your son is now doing because of a book report. But still reading Iliad at 11 does impress me. Suwerte niya tatay niya teacher, hayan anak tingnan mo sa dictionary maraming kahulugan ang cried!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kuya Rolly! Thanks po sa link ng poetry nyo. Honestly, ituloy nyo po ang pagsusulat ng poems. =) I enjoyed reading them! If you wish, kasi gusto nyo rin po ang haiku, try nyo po magsulat nun. Alalayan po kita kung me mga tanong kayo. =)

Regarding the English language, I just learned it in school kasi sa bahay, bisaya po ang salita namin sa probinsya. Hehe. Fortunately, my sister and I were such voracious readers. Usually, pinapatayan na kami ng fuse ng Papa namin. (lol) Di na po ilaw kasi di kami nakikinig, late na raw kami natutulog lagi. Ayun, fuse na ang binababa. Hehe. Di alam ni Papa, me flashlight kami. Harhar. Yung pamangkin ko, anak ng ate ko, tuwa naman ako kasi ang lagi hinahanap, yung books daw nya. 18 months pa lang po yun. =)


joffin said...

hello sir rolly! ang cute nga ng anak ninyo and how he understood the word CRIED. ang hindi cute, kung yung mga highschool-aged kids na ang ganyang ang interpretasyon, tapos seryoso pa sila.
am i right to assume na matatandan na ng konti ang mga anak ninyo? mahirap nga ang challenge na ito, pero di pa naman huli ang lahat. may suggestion ako, kung di mamasamain: bakit hindi ninyo gawing activity ang pag-usapan ang books at movie versions. favorite ko ang the color purple, lord of the flies, animal farm, handmaid's tale saka the house of the spirits. this is one easy and dynamic way to get your kids back to reading.
ako naman, baligtad. ako lang ang mahilig magbasa sa pamilya namin. nung single pa ko, hindi teddy bur ang katabi ko... mga libro. usually 2 or 3 libro na nirorotate ko saka isang dictionary, hehe.
wish ko lang, sana mahilig din nang husto ang magiging anak namin ni P balang araw dahil kaming dalwa ay na-inlove sa kakabasa.
have a great week ahead!

BatJay said...

tama ang anak mo tito rolly. talagang iyakin yang si ulysses. ang tagal kasing di nakauwi, kung saan saan pa napunta after troy. tapos yung asawa niya, kung sino sino pa ang nanliligaw. hehe.

ako first language ko ang english. di ko alam kung tama o mali. pero malaking advantage sa akin ngayon dahil nakakapagsalita akong diretsong ingles.

from 1-5 years old lang ako nag pure english. pag tagal din nag tagalog na ako. dahil na rin sa mga kalaro. "what's your name?" ang unang banat ko sa kanila. "anong what's your name ang pinagsasabi mo. ulul, magtagalog ka!", ang sagot naman sa akin.

rolly said...

Ay talaga Metapoor. Maraming tanong ang mga bata. Lalo na pag about the birds and the bees na.

Bonjeur anonymous. Galing mo naman. By my count, you can speak at least 5 languages. I don't know but it's also my observation na mas mahilig magtawa sa wrong pronunciation at wrong grammar ang mga Filipino kaysa sa mga ibang tao.

To the other anonymous, magaling din at pinag-aral mo ng chinese ang anak mo. I believe it will be another language to contend with in the future. This will be the language of global business. Is it mandarin that your child speaks?

Hi Belle, I'm glad you dropped by. Sana nagustuhan mo nga yung poetry ko. I'm still a newbie and learning poetry via the internet. The link I showed you is a poetry exhibit for poetry month in the US. Yung mga kasama ko, group mates ko sa poetry group namin.

About reading, I wouldn't mind kung maging addict sa pagbabasa mga anak ko. That would help them grow emotionally well. Hirap lang, even my wife, pinagbabawalan silang magbasa pag nasa kotse. Lalabo daw mata. Di totoo yun.

Yes, Joffin. Medyo grown up na mga bata. The eldest is 18, si Mickey which is the subject of this blog is 16, Kim is turning 15 and Coby, the youngest is 12. Tama ka, kung ngayon sinabi ni Mickey na iyakin si Ulysses based on that observation, me tama siya sakin. hehehe

Batjay, that is precisely why I didn't opt to rearing my children to be english speaking. Baka tarantaduhin ng mga kalaro. Kunsabagay, lahat naman ng bagay may pros and cons, e no? Oh well...

Anonymous said...


i also do the same thing to my boys. binibili ko sila ng mga books...pati comics. kahit ano basta may mabasa sila aside from their textbooks. i want them to develop the habit. kahit yung mga magic cards hehehe, natutuwa akopag binabasa nila yung mga description ng mga characters dun.

Jdavies said...

I'm not sure if Iliad is a good read for an 11 year old child. I think it's good for schools to introduce classics to kids, but I'm not sure if Iliad is digestible at this point. The book deserves more than just reading, it is best to read it with other books and in light of history than by itself.

I hope the translation that he read was not a hard one. If it was too difficult, he might end up treating Iliad as but a silly academic requirement...which will miss the point.

I admire how your kiddo showed interest in reading it; it's good that you encourage them. Excellent translations of that work may not be as enjoyable for kids at his age, but him showing interest is a great start.

rolly said...

Hi Mari,

Ganon din ako, I buy them books and urge them to read. First book na binili ko "Little Prince" and then "Jonathan Livingston Seagull". Siguro nabigatan, hindi binasa e. :-)

Hi Jardine Davies, it's so nice to see you here. Exactly my thought when I learned that the assignment was to do a book report on the Iliad. However it turned out that the book is for kiddies kaya okay lang.

bayibhyap said...

I think the Illiad is pretty heavy stuff too for an 11-year old kid unless the text is an abridged version. There is nothing wrong with reading abridged versions until the children are ready for the unabridged texts. Exposure to Greek mythology and other classical stories at an early age fires the imagination of the children and they tend to write with better imagery and understand works that contain references to such myths. Another excellent text rich in historical anecdotes is none other than the Bible.

Reading is one of the most pleasureable habits of life and encouragement at a young age builds strong foundations for a rich and rewarding hobby later on in life.

You surely make an excellent father and an equally good teacher!

Jet said...

hahaha! Oo nga, ang cute nga.

Oo nga. back when we were in school, it seemed like everything was about speaking and writing English correctly. Nakakatawa nga e. The school where I went to was run by ICM sisters, most of whom were Belgians. One time, we were celebrating Linggo ng Wika. Since the bigwigs in the school were foreigners (who never bothered to try learning our language), we had to do all our presentation dialogues, speeches and whatever in English... for the sake of the nuns. So there we were, doing our stuff, the content of which should be guided by this statement: 'He who does not profess love for his native tongue is worse than a smelly fish.' On stage, some naughty girls among the performers started sniffing around toward the end of the program... and the nuns were so clueless... hehe.

I strongly recommend that children be taught Tagalog, first and foremost. Kasi, tingin ko ang rule of thumb ngayon as far as propriety is concerned is, when spoken to in English, one must respond in English. When spoken to in Tagalog, one must respond in Tagalog. E pano kung hindi marunong ng Tagalog ang bata? Wala siyang kaalam-alam, nagiging improper na pala siya.

Anonymous said...

maganda talaga pag nagkaroon ng reading habit ang mga bata. You get a lifetime of learning from reading. Sa bahay namin, we encourage our kids to read books (though comics also will do for now). We even have some books which do not contain any word at all,puro pictures lang, and we ask them to exercise their imaginations and make up their own stories from the illustrations. They also love reading poems in Chinese from the Tang dynasty which they would memorize (this amazes me because when I was at that age (up to now) I was never really fond of poetry)!!!

At home, (we live in Taiwan) we speak in Mandarin and English. (They can read both in English and Chinese). They also speak a little Fookienese or Amoy. Sayang nga I did not teach them bisaya or tagalog when they were younger (now they're 9 and 8)
but I thought they would get confused. I guess I shouldn't have underestimated the potential for learning different languages at an early age. With my youngest (3), we speak to him in Mandarin, Amoy, English and Bisaya and I am amazed by the fact that he knows which language to use, with whom!!! He loves to read books, or rather look at them. He would sometimes give me the book, climb onto my lap and ask me to read to him!!! I don't really mind the mess he makes getting all the books off the shelf as long as he gets into the habit of reading!!!


rolly said...

Bayi, again, while I was growing up, my favorite reads are bible stories. Not only was I interested with the stories but with the illustrations as well. The Iliad that my son was reading was borrowed from the grade school library. it was a book for kids. So, okay lang.I would have protested had they asked him to read the unabridged version. Ano yun, papatayin nila bata?

Jet, just like you and your hubby, I was raised in a catholic school. it was ran by Agustinian sisters. I don't know if you know the place. It's in San Roque in Caloocan. It's called La Consolacion school. I was there from Grade 1 to Grade 6. That was funny. Girls can really be "Articulate". Maarte and makulit, hehehe.

hi Bernice, yes, ang daling matuto ng mga bata ng language. Iwan mo lang sandali sa mga kalaro at ayun na. A few days at marunong na sila. Bilis ng pick-up no? Galing ng youngest mo. Magaling din at mukhang mahihilig sa libro. You've got one intelligent kid in the making.

joshua mikhail said...

Sir Rolly...baka meron po kayong halimbawa ng 5 kwento ng greek mythology na translated sa tagalog? pwede po bang makahingi ng copy? kailangan lang po ng anak ko sa school sa friday 17 March. Marami pong salamat...God bless...