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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Special Filipino Class

My son was born and lived his first five years in other countries, where English is the conversational language. It never occurred to me that we will have the opportunity to move to the Philippines so I never thought there was a need for us to practice Filipino language at home. I know that I should have taught my son to speak my native tongue during his early years even if we weren’t living in the Pearl of the
Realizing what I just told the teacher and the reason why she seemed shocked, I burst into an uncontrollable laugh.

“Why Mommy? What’s so funny?”

“Hahahaha! I just, sort of, told your Filipino teacher that you did not learn anything from her class!"
Orient Seas, but I didn’t.

Now that he goes to an exclusive school for boys in Manila, capital of the Philippines, he is struggling in his Filipino lessons. Hence, I tutor him, translate his homework, consult the Filipino-English dictionary or browse online for the definition of difficult Filipino words.

However, my son still needs further assistance despite the fact that we have been here in the Philippines for almost three years. So, I decided to sign him up for the Special Filipino Class at his school.

That said, I attended the parents’ meeting at my son’s school a couple of days ago, which was for Non-Filipino Speakers’ Parents’ Organization.

As soon as I got in and sat down in the lecture hall, I took the chance to talk to one of the teachers/facilitators who was passing around the sign-in sheet. I asked the nice lady about the program, the fee and if there’s a flyer to be distributed.

When the teacher turned around to pay attention to the other parents asking her questions, my son whispered to me,

“She's my teacher in Filipino.”

I nodded and said, “I see.”

As soon as the teacher was free again, I fired away with more questions.
“Did the speaker talk about the Saturday Filipino Class earlier?

“No, Ma’am. That Saturday class is not part of this program.”

“Oh right.”

(So the fee for the Saturday class is different from this program then”, talked to myself out loud.)

After a few seconds pause, I fired another question.
“During tests, is it allowed for students to ask their teacher to translate in English the instructions and test questions, or not?"

“Yes, of course they can ask us to translate. In fact, we do explain to them the instructions especially if we know that they do not speak Tagalog (national language of Filipinos).”

“Right. But my son is too shy to raise his hand to ask, you know."

“Yes, I know Elijah. I am actually surprised to see Elijah here because he was not enrolled into this program last year.”

“I know I didn’t sign him up last year because I was hoping that my tutoring was enough but there is only a slight improvement in his knowledge of the Filipino language. So, I am considering of getting him into this program.”

“Ma’am, my suggestion is you tutor him at home.”

“I do, I just mentioned it. I translate everything for him at home and he writes down all the Filipino words that he does not understand, with English definition.

But when he gets to school he forgets it and too shy to ask teachers. Well, we can’t really expect him to learn the language in a snap, can we?

I don’t think he improved and learned anything from last school year, if he did, it's very slight improvement. No, I should say, he did not learn anything from his Filipino class last year.

If he knows some Filipino words or phrases that is because I have been tutoring him at home.”

On that remark, the teacher stared at me with wide eyes and mouth slightly open. She seemed slightly shocked but did not argue.

After the meeting, on our way to the school gate, I asked my son for confirmation,
"She is your Filipino teacher this year, right?”

“No, Mommy. She was my Filipino teacher last year, in first grade.”


Realizing what I just told the teacher and the reason why she seemed shocked, I burst into an uncontrollable laugh.

"Why Mommy? What’s so funny?”

“Hahahaha! I just, sort of, told your Filipino teacher that you did not learn anything from her class!”

I meant no disrespect to the Filipino teacher but I burst into another rupture of uncontrollable laugh, this time with my son.

After recovering from his own fit of laughter, he said,
“No Mommy! Why did you say that to her?”

“Why not? Besides, I thought she is your teacher this year, not last school year.”

“Mommy, never ever do that again!”

“Why? Hahahaha! I didn’t mean it, honest! But it’s good that she knows she didn’t do her job well eh.”

Winked at my son then we both burst again into a fit of laughter before climbing the footbridge to cross the road.

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