Why Filipino as an Academic Subject is More Difficult to Learn Than Conversational Filipino
Easy as Pie?
How hard could it be to learn your own native language? Not much, right? Apparently not! This is what my children are finding out for themselves as they plunge head-on with their Filipino subjects only to discover they are not quite the same as our everyday Filipino conversation.
Learning to Speak Filipino at Home
Filipino children learn to speak the language quite easily and naturally. In households like ours where the Filipino language is used daily in almost all instances except in occasions where it is necessary to speak in a foreign language such as in English, fluency and mastery is attained in a considerably short time. Learning is generally effortless and often happens from mimicking sounds and intonations as done by adults.
Reading Filipino text presents no exceptional difficulty since words are pronounced as they are spelled. English is a more complex language where we have to contend with long and short sounds of vowels, irregular spellings, and varying pronunciation. Conversational Filipino is simple, relaxed, and learner-friendly.
Learning Filipino in School
Learning the Filipino language as a subject in school is entirely different. The rules that have to be observed in producing a strictly grammatically-correct paragraph can prove to be quite a challenge even for adults like me who have supposedly gone through at least 15 years of formal schooling. This is because the Filipino language taught in school is more formal and has to conform with the established guidelines in relation to its status as the national language of the country.
My children would often ask me why sentence construction has to be made a lot more difficult than our regular conversation would entail. Come to think of it, the "difficulty" is actually just comparable to learning the English language except that we have had more exposure to the English language as a means of instruction. Filipino only represents one subject taught in the vernacular. At least one other subject previously known as Social Studies is now being taught in Filipino. Actual experience would show that the shift in the language of instruction appeared to have made the subject harder than it was during our time mainly because of the lack of proper Filipino translation for many words associated with our history.
Actual Usage of the Filipino Language
In view of the big difference in style, tone, and construction between the academic Filipino and conversational Filipino, we find ourselves limiting the use of the former in school work and other tasks requiring the use of formal and technically-correct Filipino. We use the latter when talking with our family, friends, and the people we meet everyday. It would take considerable efforts on the part of the institution assigned with the development of the Filipino language to reconcile everyday learning with institutional learning.