EXPOSURE: Key TO LANGUAGE Survival

I could say that I grew up having a good command of the Cebuano dialect but as I have grown up to be an adult, I’m kind of losing my edge. I couldn’t speak all Cebuano anymore. There are also times when I find it difficult to express myself in front of people using Cebuano. Let’s say I have become attuned to the English language. Well, English is something I have to be proficient with as I am an English teacher. Admittedly, my system has long been acclimated to the tongues of the Western World. It’s true what they say; You win some, you lose some. But hey, I don’t want to lose my command of my mother tongue. I mean, I wouldn’t! It is still what I use when I am not in school. However, it has been sullied, perhaps the result of code switching.

This internal battle to uphold my mother tongue has become very challenging but I wouldn’t stop thinking of ways how I may be a catalyst for its nourishment and survival. I say it is EXPOSURE that the young ones need in order to grow up carrying the torch of their mother tongues aflame. Furthermore, the “mother tongue” ideal is not absolute anymore. Hence the language/dialect used by the young ones even when born Cebuanos is English because they are taught the said language first. In rebuttal, the parents say that children are taught English first because it is difficult to learn. They also say that Cebuano need not be learned because it is our language thus, it comes out naturally. Fair point! However, there is one thing they might have missed; the children now think that English is their mother tongue. Unless of course they have very cunning parents who expose them still to the Cebuano dialect. Or better yet, parents who still care about it.

LOCAL RADIO DRAMAS. Because I was born during the time when radio dramas were embedded in our daily routines – ‘twas the late 1900’s and I lived in the country (province)- I speak good Cebuano. Radio dramas are localized therefore, Cebuanos listen to Cebuano radio stations. The use of the dialect was unsullied. (Still not entirely true since it is still blotted with Spanish words. You know why.) Unfortunately, as technology advances the radio stations are slowly dying; but there are still those that are hanging on. They should be commended for such. HANGING ON IS NEVER EASY.

REGIONAL TV STATIONS. National television networks have also incorporated regional stations in which the latter were allowed certain time slots to air in the specific locale. This means only that there is still great hope for our dear Cebuano dialect because of these regional stations delivering fresh news in Cebuano. There is even a TV channel that is purely Cebuano in terms of shows and the like. However, it is still battling with graphics quality. My hope is that it will come at par with the big TV stations to furnish the spot of Cebuano language in show business. If hope is all we have, we cling to it. ‘TIS BETTER HOPE THAN DESPAIR.

MUSIC INDUSTRY. Hope is greater in the music industry especially that the Visayan/Cebuano songs have already gained fame once more. The musically-inclined even when not so good with Cebuano may eventually learn as some Filipinos learn Korean because of K-pop. These Cebuano songs must be propagated but one should also be wary with the lyrics. Let us not forget substance. LET US REMEMBER THAT LANGUAGE IS NOTHING WITHOUT ESSENTIALITY.

BOOKS. There aren’t so many books written in Cebuano, however allow me to talk about a textbook in Filipino. It was a textbook for grade school. One of the parents complained because of use of borrowed words. Here goes the controversial sentence, “Tumunog ang bell.” (The bell tolled.) The Filipino translation for “bell” is “KAMPANA”, so the question now is why borrow when we have our own. Is it really so difficult to say, “TUMUNOG ANG KAMPANA.”? You may say that is but petty. As for me, it should be a big deal for it entails the probable wipe out of our language done gradually because they seem petty. In the first place, the purpose of borrowing words is to fill in the lack of word that may correspond to specific translations. WE DO NOT BORROW WHEN WE HAVE PLENTY; THAT IS BEING VORACIOUS.

MOTHER TONGUE-BASED MULTILINGUAL EDUCATION. This one is controversial. Personally, I should be so happy about this but I feel a bit worried when I saw the books. However, the book should not define how it is taught. Mother tongue is taught in the first to the third grade. I just hope that the said subject is taught communicatively and not structurally. The form or structure of the language when not put in application drowns the young minds as those highfalutin Cebuano words are not heard anywhere especially the counting. The form is better grasped by older students, say the undergraduate studies (college) or the senior high school. As for children, they should learn it to communicate, thus they should be taught first the spoken language until they become ready to absorb all those. AND PERHAPS WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT WHAT IS DEEMED DIFFICULT AND IMPOSSIBLE WILL BECOME LIGHT AND ACCEPTABLE.

The problem with our society is that it always grills the youth because of the mishaps of the adults. It wants the children to become the solutions to problems the latter have not caused. WHY DON’T WE TRY IMPOSING SOLUTIONS TO THE ADULTS SO THAT THEY WOULD STOP CREATING PROBLEMS THAT THE CHILDREN WOULD HAVE TO KEEP DISENTANGLING?

About the Photo

The photo was taken by my son, Mark Jemzelle B. Cogtas. He is mostly inclined in macro photography. You could see more of his photos at https://bit.ly/38cDVoU.

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I am urged to write for my students. I may not be the greatest among writers but I want to show them the possibilities of the tasks I ask them to do. That I do not just simply demand; I ensure learning by example. Thus I lead by example.

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