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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Language Immersion - a Lost Art ?

I watch in silent disbelief as a couple talk to their child in English. Not that there's anything wrong with English, but the fact that they do, made me shake my head.

The couple are both Filipinos {like me} who speaks fluent Filipino dialect. "Why are they talking to their child in English?" Don't they value their heritage, their language? Enough to teach their child a foreign language rather than theirs? "What gives?"

In my 6 years of living in the US, 95% of Filipinos I know especially those married to fellow Filipino and speaks fluent Filipino language, rears their child speaking only the English language or knows a few words of their parents' native language or not at all. It continues to baffle me as to why this is a common phenomena amongst Filipinos living abroad.

In my case, I'm married to an American which made immersion a rather tricky task for me. It was agreed after debating, that we'll establish English as our daughters' first language since I'm outnumbered anyway. Two to one. At this point, my daughter can banter with me in my language. It's still a work in progress but I'm delighted with the result of my efforts.

Why then is it too difficult for others to pass on their heritage? I personally, don't want mine to end with me. I want my daughter to carry on my heritage and legacy after I'm long gone. It will be a gift she can be proud of.

So, I continue to seek the answer. Just recently, I came across a Filipina with a Filipina mom and American dad. She only speaks English. She is married to a Filipino who speaks fluent Filipino dialect and they have a daughter, who only speaks English as well. I quizzed her why she never learned the Filipino dialect. Her and her Filipina Mom both replied that "her dad forbid it!" I was shocked. I thot it was selfish and cruel. For whatever reason her mom decided not to oppose it, I will never want to know. What about her daughter? I'm beyond puzzlement.

Another Filipina lady I spoke with who have Filipino parents told me that she regretted the fact that her parents never taught her their language. She said that "she'll never understand why they didn't"... That she would have loved it if she knew the language.

These are just few of the many Filipinos I have encountered who are encased in this phenomena. I really don't understand why. Is it the lack of self-esteem rooted in our dysfunctional culture? The hunger to belong and be accepted? Or simply blinded by our own pride?

In comparison, I've noted that Chinese, Indians {from India}, other Asians, even Hispanics have a very strong adherence to keeping their heritage intact as evident in their kids. Why can't we be like them?

Answers still escapes me. I may never know. I will always wonder...

** If you have any comments or opinion in this subject matter, feel free to voice it out. I might just find the answers through you!