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Friday, September 17, 2010

English for the Boys

My nephews are learning English! Yey!

Our home is a "No English, Please" zone. We don't speak English because there are two impressionable boys in the house: one is two years old, the other is four.

I want them to master Filipino before they are corrupted by side street, Eat Bulaga English.

At first, the parent of the younger boy would throw English phrases to the wind like, "Don't eat that. Dirty." And I would follow up saying, "O, huwag mo daw kainin kase madumi." At times, the mother would say, "Baby, don't cry." And I'd go: "Tumahan ka, wala kang Jollibee."

Finally, the parents of the kids got the message. If the aunt, who has a degree in the English language and a master's degree in English literature, would not speak to the kids in English, why would we?

But unknown to us a troop of English teachers find themselves into the living room: HBO, Spiderman, Spongebob and Patrick, and Lightning McQueen.

Now, the kids say "shark," "no," "listen to me now!," and two pages worth of words more. The kids don't have yayas, only enslaved uncles and aunts. And the slaves won't badge to speak English.

One time, the older boy asked my brother what the conversation was about between two soldiers in the Combat series. My brother said: "Manood ka lang at makinig. Maiintindihan mo rin yan." Even translation isn't allowed. Get the message through context clues, that's our approach.

Language acquisition is really more effective than language learning. Say what? The first one allows the non-native speakers to immerse themselves in the language through day to day interaction with the native speakers of the second language. The latter teaches the non-native speakers the rules by translation and textbooks. Language acquisition is used for survival, meaning without any help anchored by one's native tongue. Here, the basis is mostly "utile." In language learning, it is academics.

When kids are made to learn things for purely academics gain, the result, which is knowledge, may not be so positive and long lasting compared with having the kids acquire the skills, which are purpose-driven.

The boys are learning English! Next step is for them to read Moby Dick.

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