English Started at Home
My father speaks four Philippine languages and my mother could speak three. My mom could speak English and my dad can too, but my dad knows more words and has better pronunciation because he used and studied English more.
I can’t remember which language I learned first, but my two youngest siblings learned to speak English and Ilocano before they learned Filipino. It was hard for them in school because many of their classmates were not comfortable and not very good at speaking English.
Ilocano – the language of the people living in the north western part of Luzon in the Philippines
Filipino – the national language of the Philippines
Now they can speak Filipino well and sometimes they use it at home, but I always try to speak to them in English or Ilocano. I want them to practice these two languages at home because I think they use Filipino enough at school and with friends.
For me, learning a language was just about using it. Our father was very strict. He wanted us to do well in school, but he never forced us to study English hard. He simply bought a lot of books, told us to read a lot, and spoke to us in English sometimes.
Mom was the same. When we went to her hometown, she asked her family to speak to us in Ilocano because we couldn’t understand Kalinga. Our relatives tried their best to talk to us in Ilocano even though they weren’t used to it, and they never forced us to learn their language.
But they sometimes asked us one or two questions in Kalinga and we all laughed when we made mistakes or tried to answer with bad grammar and pronunciation.
I think I’m lucky that my parents speak a lot of languages and used those languages to communicate with us no matter how good or bad they or we are, but I think even parents who can’t speak a lot of languages can help their children get interested in languages too.