Being Bilingual (Number 9 on my Definitive List of Things I'm Thankful For)

Monday, May 13, 2024

I wasn't bilingual until I was 9 years old. Before that, I only knew English. 

For those who aren't familiar, Tagalog is the national language of the Philippines. Growing up, it was the language spoken by my parents and relatives. I, however, only knew basic words in Tagalog. So moving to the Philippines forced me to understand and speak the language. It wasn't easy, as I was enrolled in school as a fourth grader with a Tagalog learning level that of a kindergarten student. 

At first, it felt like juggling two completely different worlds. Thanks to my classmates who were very supportive and patient in teaching me how to speak Tagalog, I became fluent in a year and learned even more through years of Filipino subjects included in my high school and college education. 

Over time, I realized it was more like having a superpower. Tagalog lets me connect with my family and friends on a deeper level, expressing those nuances of emotion and humor that only come through in the local language. On the other hand, my early grasp of English gave me an advantage in being fluent in a second language and opened doors to a wider world of information and opportunities.
Switching languages also came very naturally and sometimes, I'd switch back and forth within a sentence. 

I'm proud to say that I've written poems, composed songs, and even created a website all in Tagalog. When I was a teenager, I even memorized a couple of rap songs in Tagalog. I've gone a long way from learning the language as a newbie to perfecting both spoken and written form, which will never be forgotten. 

Ang saya diba?

You Might Also Like