Monday, July 26, 2010

Robbing Children of a Native Language

Verna Yu "had always presumed that speaking to your child in your native tongue was the most natural thing in the world" until she encountered the latest educational trend in Hong Kong: parents who "speak to their children only in their less-than-perfect English" — Cantonese, Please

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Blogger Enbrethiliel said...


It's been happening in the Philippines for decades, but I don't think anyone has ever really been alarmed. As even die-hard nationalists will admit, Filipino is the national language but not many Filipinos native language because it was just the dialect chosen out of dozens when the government didn't want to keep using Spanish. But yes, among Tagalogs there is already a sense of disconnect with the past.

On the other hand, it's not so bad among Cebuanos, despite their better command of English, because they've always felt that Cebuano should have been the national language. They understand Filipino/Tagalog well enough, but refuse to speak it. I kind of envy them.

Oh, some slice of life now:

Every parent to whom I was referred this school year has said that his child has been having the most trouble in classes that are taught in Filipino. It's the only thing they want tutoring for. And I've had to sheepishly admit that my own Filipino isn't so hot, either. The trend started with my generation. (Then again, you should hear the parents sheepishly admit that they never talk to their children in Filipino at home!)

2:37 PM  
Blogger love the girls said...

"The boy is not yet two, and he was still babbling away in baby words"

Since multiple languages is a punishment, a rather interesting turn of phrase for an article complaining of his learning a single common language.

And since multiple languages are not proper to man, I wonder if divisions of culture caused by language are an effect of the punishment? Which would in turn make them less than desirable.

10:16 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

You're hitting home, my home, with that comment, love the girls. But rather than say everything is multi-culty hunky-dory, I'm enough of a man to admit that raising bi-cultural, bi-lingual kids, as I am attempting to do, is not without its inherent pitfalls, dangers, difficulties, and even impossibilities. Mine is not the ideal, but my wife and kids are beautiful.

My kids' mother tongue is Korean, because their mother is Korean. English is for them, and always will be, a second language, one I hope they'll be near-native like in.

For me, even daily family life is a reflection of our temporal exile. I have no choice but to thank God for this daily reminder.

10:46 PM  

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