Call I.D.E.A.S.

How Do I Teach My Child Filipino?


As teachers, we often get asked “How do I teach my child Filipino?”  The answer is both simple and complex.

Simple, because the answer can be found before our very eyes.  The answer lies within us, the people who surround our children.  We need to use Filipino in our everyday conversations for our children to learn.

Complex, because to be able to do this, we need to break old habits and change our perspective on how we include the Filipino language in our daily lives.

Much importance is placed on learning English to be able to do well in school, that the significance of speaking Filipino to children very early in life is often overlooked.  It is no longer a surprise when we see children struggling with Filipino and Araling Panlipunan when they get to grade school.    We forget that very young children have the capacity to learn multiple languages.  Maria Montessori has shown us that children have the natural ability to acquire language, and they experience a sensitive period for language development from birth until age six.

Teachers too, because we are so used to teaching in English, have a tendency to forget to teach our students and even our own children in Filipino.  The only way to bridge that gap is to continue to find ways to immerse the children in Filipino language and culture.  In school, our goal is for the children to acquire language, both Filipino and English, through the environment.  This is done not only by working with materials in the classroom, but also through rich oral language experiences in the form of stories, songs, games and, perhaps most importantly, through conversation.  It is by actively using a language that a child is able to master it.  Through practice, they are able to make adjustments in how they pronounce and put words together.

Here are some tips to help you make your home environment more conducive to learning Filipino and appreciating the richness of our cultural heritage:

  1. Build your child’s vocabulary.

Children tend to be very interested in learning the names of things around them.  Introduce the names of objects in Filipino as well.  Go beyond teaching them the names of things.  Teach action words and adjectives as these can be very handy in everyday conversation.

  1. Teach them everyday phrases.

Grace and courtesy are a part of Montessori Practical Life lessons.  Teach your children to use phrases like Salamat po, Walang anuman and to use po and opo as a sign of respect to elders.

Identify phrases that they can use in their everyday life:  Kain na!  Inaantok ako.  Gusto ko ng…  Nasaan si…?

  1. Expose them to stories/books in Filipino.

There is actually quite a good selection of Filipino children’s books available.  Aside from stories that cover a wide range of themes, the illustrations are sure to catch a child’s attention.

Perhaps what is more important than building your home library is spending some time each day reading to your children in Filipino.  This sends the message that reading is fun and highlights the beauty of the language.  It is also an opportunity to introduce vocabulary not used in our usual conversations with them.

  1. Incorporate native Filipino items in the home.

Using these in the family’s daily routines, household tasks or even as a part of play is a subtle way of instilling love for own culture.  Most traditional Filipino toys are actually in line with Montessori education which emphasizes the use of natural materials that are safe and enjoyable for  children.  Manipulating items made out of wood or fabric helps the child appreciate the natural world and provides them with greater tactile experiences.  Simple toys can actually be a welcome break for children.  Sometimes toys with lights and sounds tend to interrupt a child’s thinking process while traditional toys are more open-ended and encourage more imaginative play.

Here are some items to you can include in your home environment:  child-sized walis, banig, lutu-lutuan  (cooking toys such as earthenware, kawali, etc.) or wooden toys handcrafted in the Philippines.

  1. Go on local trips.


Montessori education places much importance on real life experiences.  Visiting places give children a deep sensorial experience of culture through food, textures, art and smells.  In the city, there are many things to do:  a tricycle ride, a visit to the market or the neighborhood sari-sari store, a day at the museum, an outing at the park, a quick stop at your alma mater to show your children things you did when you were young.


  1. Talk about your own family’s history.

It is within the confines of the family where children first learn about their place in the world.  Telling real stories about family members can be very engaging to them when filled with interesting information, funny anecdotes and unusual details.  These can be discussed spontaneously at the dinner table, on the car ride to school or at bedtime.   Family traditions and rituals are absorbed by the child, allowing him to identify with his own family and also his community.


  1. Get extra help.

I.D.E.A.S. has started a program called Masayang Miyerkules wherein all lessons and activities are conducted in Filipino one day each week to give the children more opportunities to practice conversing in Filipino.

You may also be interested in The Learning Librarys “Wika’y Galing,” a program for students having difficulty in the Filipino subject in school.  It focuses on filling in the gaps in the child’s foundational skills in using the language.