How to Raise Multilingual Kids in the Philippines

I am a third-generation Chinese Filipino, and I grew up in a multilingual home. Speaking in different languages was something that came naturally because of what my siblings and I have been exposed to. I spoke Amoy (Chinese dialect) to my parents and other relatives, spoke Hiligaynon or Ilonggo (Visayan dialect) to my friends, learned and used Filipino in class, and used English for different occasions. Over the years, I’ve acquired a bit of Mandarin when I was in seminary, and learned to speak in Bisaya or Cebuano while I was working in Cebu.

We’ve used the Amoy dialect to speak to Little Miss for the first three years of her life. But she learned English and Filipino when she started school shortly after that. She now mainly converses in English, although we still try to speak to her in Chinese. She reminds me of my younger self who refused to speak Chinese because none of my peers would ever do so. I guess that is the dilemma most later generation of Chinese immigrants face. Perhaps we fail to see the practical use of speaking Chinese in the Philippines. Little Miss also learned to speak in Filipino by imitating us. Although she has a funny Chinese accent when speaking Filipino, most store clerks are surprised when a Chinese-looking little girl can actually converse in Filipino. She is a local, and she ought to speak the language!

I was asked by a mom in Instagram how to teach a second and third language to children. To be honest, I never really thought about a systematic way of doing so. But here are some practical tips we’ve applied in teaching (whether actively or unconsciously) kids any second or third (even fourth) language.

Define Terms

Once a child learns a certain term in one particular language, try to introduce the very same item using a different language. For example, my two-year old now knows the colors in English. I am now introducing the colors to him in Chinese when he tries to mention the words in English. Classical Education is all about content in the early stages, and it is the same with learning any language. Provide the content by defining animals, colors, places, actions, etc. 

Repetition is Key

You may sound like a broken record. But that’s alright. Children learn by constant repetition. For example, if your child says “eat” you can respond by saying “kain” until they repeat it after you. Pretty soon they will realize that the same word means the same thing.

Mixing Languages is Normal

Don’t worry about them mixing up languages because that usually happens. They’ll learn to determine or categorize the words when they grow older.

Determine Fluency

You have to realize that there are different levels of fluency. It moves from Understanding, Speaking, Reading, Writing, and to Composing. Traditional Filipino schools teach English and Filipino proficiency through reading and writing. My aim for my children is to teach Chinese fluency in speaking or communicating. I don’t really mind if they don’t know how to read and write it. I’ve been schooled in Chinese for most of my school years, but I still cannot read a lot of Chinese. I’d be happy if my children learn to converse in Chinese. You have to decide how far you’d want your kids to learn a certain language. Your decision will also determine the lengths you’ll go to actively teach them proper writing or grammar rules.

Practice by Speaking

My husband and I can communicate in three languages fluently: English, Amoy, and Filipino. We usually interchange these languages at home, and the children are exposed to it. Nothing beats constant exposure and regular practice by speaking the language. The language loses its relevance when it is not being used, so keep using it if you want your children to learn the language. Simply put, if you speak it at home, your children will catch it soon enough.

Did you also grow up in a multilingual home? What are some of the ways that helped you learn different languages? Or how did you teach your own children to learn different languages? 

How to Talk to Children about Death

For the past weeks, our family has mourned the lost our dear grandmother. She was the first Christian in my husband’s family, whose spiritual legacy has resulted to two churches planted, one of which is our own fledgling church community. Our Little Miss also mourned her passing. She did not take it well when I finally told her that her great grandmother went home to be with God in heaven. There were several nights when we was utterly distraught at the thought of not seeing her great grandmother again. The only way she was able to finally sleep at night was to take comfort in God’s promises. I taught her a song based on 1 Peter 5:7 that I also learned when I was a little girl.

I cast all my cares upon You

I lay all of my burdens down at Your feet

And any time I don’t know what to do

I will cast all my cares upon You

One of our biggest parental roles is to impart God’s Word to our children. Even though it can be a tough topic, we should not shy away in talking about death because Scripture clearly addresses it. Opportunities to talk about death would open up when a pet dies or when a family member needs to attend a funeral.

What does the Bible say about Death?

Death Happens

Death makes us upset. Sometimes it makes us sad because we might not see the person we love. Sometimes it makes us angry because we don’t understand why they had to leave. But the Bible tells us that death is real, and it happens to everyone. One day, we will also die.

Hebrews 9:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10

Death is NOT NORMAL

But death is not normal. God meant for us to live forever. But sin spoiled everything. Death is a result of sin. Because of sin, we will all die.

1 Corinthians 15:56-58

JESUS DESTROYED DEATH

But God sent His Son Jesus to destroy death. He died on the cross, was buried, and on third day, he rose again. Jesus defeated death, and death will die one day. When we trust that Jesus lived, died and became alive again so that our sins can be forgiven, God promises a life in heaven with him forever.

1 Corinthians 15:26; John 3:16; John 11:23-26

DEATH IS TO BE WITH GOD FOREVER

We will still die. And dying could mean that we may no longer be with our earthly families. But if we believe in Jesus, dying means we will be with God forever. We will be happy with God always. We will praise and worship God always. Most of all, we will spend forever with God, and enjoy Him forever.

John 14:1-4; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; Philippians 3:20-21

Prepare Them Beforehand

A good time to talk about death would be before death ever happens. It is usually more manageable when the child is not upset or distressed. In a way, we prepare them before a distressing event like death occurs. Catechism is a great tool that could do just that. Here are the last 10 questions and answers of the Children’s Catechism that can help address some concerns relating to death. It also provides some simple answers regarding those who do not believe in Jesus.

  1. Did Christ remain in the grave after his crucifixion?
    No. He rose bodily from the grave on the third day after his death.
  2. Where is Christ now?
    In heaven, ruling his kingdom and interceding for us.
  3. Will the Lord Jesus come again?
    Yes! He will return to judge the world on the last day.
  4. What happens to believers when they die?
    Our bodies will return to the dust and our souls will go to be with the Lord forever.
  5. What happens to unbelievers when they die?
    Their bodies will return to dust also, but their souls will go to hell.
  6. What is hell?
    Hell is an awful place, where unbelievers are separated from God to suffer for their sins.
  7. Will the bodies of all the dead be raised again?
    Yes. At the last day some will be raised to everlasting life and others to everlasting death.
  8. What will God do to unbelievers at the last day?
    He will judge them, and condemn them to everlasting punishment in the lake of fire with Satan and his angels.
  9. What will God do for believers at the last day?
    He will give them a home with him in the new heaven and the new earth.
  10. What will the new heaven and the new earth be like?
    A glorious and happy place, where the saved will be with Jesus forever.

Not knowing what is going to happen after death is certainly upsetting for anyone, let alone a child. Try not to downplay their emotions when this happens. Instead, recognize that have worries, fear or dread of death, and point them to our everlasting hope in Jesus. But most of all, pray for them and with them. That God would supply His grace upon their hearts, and give them understanding. After all, “Prayer is praising God, giving thanks for all his blessings, and asking him for the things he has promised in the Bible.” (Children’s Catechism A109)

 

Children’s Catechism Lesson 4: Loving and Doing

Lesson Plan

  • Topic: Loving and Doing
  • Bible Passage: Matthew 5:14-16
  • Big Idea: We glorify God by loving him and doing what he commands.
  • Objectives: Children will understand what glorifying God means. Children will know that we show God that we love Him when we do what he wants us to do. Children will also realize why they should glorify God.
  • Materials Used: Candle, Flashlight, Paper, Scissors, Glue

HOOK

Ask your child to name someone they love. Younger children would usually answer Mom or Dad. 

When we love someone, we would like to do things to make them happy. There are many ways to say “I love you” to someone. Can you name a few things that would make the person you love happy? (obeying parents, listening to teacher’s instructions, giving gifts to friends, etc.)

When you obey your parents, you show them that you love them. When we obey God, we show God that we love Him. Question 4 of the catechism says that we glorify God by loving him and doing what he commands. While Question 5 teaches us to glorify God because he made us and takes care of us.

Q4: How can you glorify God?
A: By loving him and doing what he commands.

 

Q5: Why are you to glorify God?
A: Because he made me and takes care of me.

In the previous lesson, we learned that God made us for his own glory. For this lesson, we are going to learn how and why we are to glorify God.

BOOK

Light a candle or open a flashlight in a dark room. Try to snuff out the candle or cover the flashlight, and observe the reaction. Do it all over again. 

The Bible tells us that God’s children are like light. Listen to what Matthew 5:14-16 says:

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (ESV)

God made us the light of the world, and whenever we show love to God by following what He wants us to do, we glorify Him. But sometimes we don’t love and obey God. We do things that God doesn’t want us to do. We would say mean things to our siblings, open up the candy bar even though Mom and Dad told us not to, and even grab a toy from a friend without asking for permission. When we disobey God, this is what the Bible calls sin. Sin is not following God’s commands. Sin is disobeying God.

Sin keeps us from loving and obeying God. But God found a way to solve the sin problem. He sent His Son Jesus to come into the world to become like us. Jesus was hungry, and thirsty. He cried when a dear friend died. He also got tired. He was like us in every way, but He did not sin. Not only that, Jesus obeyed all of God’s commandments. So when we love and trust in Jesus, God will forgive us all our sins and teach us how to love and obey Him. The Holy Spirit helps us do that by changing our hearts so that instead of loving sin, we will love God. And when other people see that we love and obey God, they may want to know God too. After all, glorifying God is showing others how great and good He is. That’s how we should glorify God.

Our lesson also teaches us that we should glorify God because he made us and takes care of us. We know these things because the Bible shows how God is kind to us.

Carine Mackenzie in her small book called God is Kind lists down several ways God shows us how he takes care of us:

  • He gives us food every day. (Luke 11:3)
  • He give us water to drink. (Isaiah 44:3)
  • He give us sunny days to enjoy. (Jeremiah 31:35)
  • He gives us our family. (Psalm 68:6)
  • He has given us the Bible to help us. (Psalm 68:11)
  • He gives a beautiful life in heaven to those who love him. (Romans 6:23)

LOOK

  • How can you glorify God? By loving him and doing what he commands.
  • Why are you to glorify God? Because he loves me and takes care of me.
  • What does it mean to glorify God?
  • What does it meant to be the light of the world?
  • What are some more ways we can obey God?
  • What are some more ways that God takes care of us?

TOOK

You could choose to sing a song, share a story, or create a craft.

The song called “The Light of the World” sung by Steve Green is based on the Matthew passage.

You are the light of the world, you are the light of the world. Let your light shine before men, you are the light of the world.

Let your light so shine that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven.
Let your light shine before men, you are the light of the world

Another great song to teach is The Ten Commandments Song by Judy Roger:

Thou shalt have no other gods but Me;
Before no idol bow thy knee.
Take not the Name of God in vain;
Nor dare the Sabbath Day profane.
Give both thy parents honor due;
Take heed that thou no murder do.
Abstain from words and deeds unclean;
Nor steal, though thou art poor and lean.
And do not lie, but always say what is true,
And covet not the things that don’t belong to you!

You could also close with a story written by R.C. Sproul called The Lightlings in keeping with the light theme.

R.C. Sproul weaves an allegorical tale that captures the essence of the biblical story of redemption in a manner that will fascinate and delight children. A race of tiny beings known as lightlings are a picture of humanity as they pass through all the stages of the biblical drama – creation, fall, and redemption. In the end, children will understand why some people fear light more than darkness, but why they need never fear darkness again.

You can hear the whole story as read by R.C. Sproul himself over at Renewing Your Mind. You can also purchase the book over at the Westminster Bookstore. It is also available locally through the Katecheo webstore.

If your child is into crafts, you could also create a lantern using basic supplies you may already have at home. Please see full instructions over here.

Related Resources

Doctrinal Compatibility

Does theology matter when I’m considering marriage with someone?

A lot of couples consider compatibility in terms of culture, education, and interests, before they get married. I propose that Christian couples should also discuss Doctrinal Compatibility when they are prayerfully considering one another.

There are some aspects of the Christian faith that cannot be left to compromise, such as the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus. There are, however, a few instances where there can be a little wiggle room. For example, I’m an infralapsarian who married a supralapsarian. My husband and I used discuss it comprehensively. But we decided to respect each other’s views since there are no clear explanations in Scripture for this one.

I, however, would like to propose these doctrinal essentials where you need to agree on, or at least discuss,  when it comes to finding a spouse:

Pre-Martial Doctrinal Discussions

GOSPEL

A good place to start is to ask whether or not someone truly believes in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Most people would like to stop here, but I personally would like to delve deeper. A lot of people reckon themselves as some sort of “Christian” nowadays. So try to see if they believe that a person is saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone? These are actually Reformation statements that basically defines the Protestant religion. But please don’t end there. Ask further if they they agree with the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and even the Athanasian Creed? These are doctrinal statements formulated and agreed upon in church history that Christians can use to check whether or not their belief aligns with the historic orthodox Christian faith. You certainly wouldn’t want to marry a heretic now, would you? Being curious about what and why a person believes makes you think about your own doctrinal convictions, or lack thereof.

CHURCH

The church isn’t merely a place where you come to worship on Sundays. On this side of eternity, the church is the visible body of believers whom the Lord has called out together as His witnesses into the world. There are many reasons why people flock to different church communities. Aside from distance or convenience, ask yourself why the person you’re interested in may not be in the same faith community as you are. How do they view the church, her ministries and mission, and her officers or leaders? Are there certain values or practices they believe in, that you don’t? Perhaps, you could also consider whether or not they believe in the continuity or discontinuity of some spiritual gifts? Does their church emphasize responsible membership? Is there some sort of accountability to their pastors and leaders in place? More importantly, is the Gospel faithfully preached, sacraments properly administered, and church discipline exercised in their local congregation? Ecclesiology is a big deal because our local churches are covenant communities where we choose to love and serve other Christians with our time, energy, money, and gifts. Whichever church community we decide to commit ourselves to have direct implications on our own lives, our future spouse, and our future children, D.v.

SACRAMENTS

While this is actually related to Church, I chose to make this a separate topic altogether in order to highlight its importance. Do they see the Lord’s Supper as a means of grace, or merely a remembrance of what Christ has done? Do they celebrate it during the Lord’s Day where it is prime and center or in small groups led by an unordained leader? How about baptism? Is their baptism tied to membership? Will you have your future children baptized, dedicated, or none at all? When your future children come up to you and ask, “Am I a Christian?” What are you going to say to them? As a Presbyterian, I affirm the practice of paedobaptism, and I consider it to be sin for parents to withhold covenant baptism from their children. As someone who was baptized by sprinkling as a child, I wouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the Lord’s Supper in some Baptist congregations. If I would have married a Baptist brother, I would have been required to undergo another baptism. As a sign and seal  the covenant, this sacrament is only happens once, and never to be repeated. These things need to be addressed before you commit to one another. Who will be following whom? And if they don’t call it sacraments, why not?

GENDER

If you’re serious about having a Christ-centered marriage, your views on gender will affect both your church life, and home life.  Do they affirm that the offices of the elder—both teaching and ruling—and deacon, are reserved for mature Christian men only? Scripture mandates that women should submit to male leadership—this is the Biblical order. Egalitarianism trumps male leadership in the church and in the home.

Theology Matters

I know that this list may seem unconventional to some people, but I truly believe that theology matters. What a person believes about God, the Scriptures, and the world, is their working theology, and it matters greatly.

The first one matters because it is of eternal significance as it relates to our salvation, and the object of our faith. The second one matters because true worship is something we must aspire to do. The third one matters because it affects our piety, practice, and even our parenting. The fourth one matters because the authority of Scripture is at stake.

Theology and Practice

I used to end with these doctrinal essentials, but I would like to add one last thing. Just because a person knows theology doesn’t necessarily mean they truly believe it in their hearts. The Bible tells us that we will know people by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20). These are also things we constantly need to check on as we journey together in our Christian walk. Do we still believe in the Gospel? Do we still repent of our sins? Do we show forth fruits in our life that reveal a changed heart, e.g. good works?

 

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This is a rehash of an old post that I wrote almost two years ago in my other blog.

Children’s Catechism Lesson 3: For His Glory

Lesson Plan

  • Topic: For His Glory
  • Bible Passage: 1 Corinthians 10:31; Psalm 19:1
  • Big Idea: God made the world and us for his own glory.
  • Objectives: Children shall recognize that God created all things for his glory. Children will know that talking about God’s glory means talking about how great and good God is. Children will understand that glorifying God is like reflecting, pointing to, or shining for Him.
  • Materials Used: Mirror, Binoculars, Night Light or Flashlight, Pictures of Nature/Sceneries

HOOK

Lay down all the materials on a table or place them inside a basket. Ask the child to name each item as you show them one by one. You may ask an older child what each item can do or what each item is for.

A mirror can show us what we look like. A pair of binoculars can give us a better view of someone at a distance. A night light or flashlight can light up a dark room.

Our third catechism lesson teaches us the reason why God made the us and all the world around us. Laying on the foundational truths about their existence as created beings is extremely important to children during their tender years. The catechism asks and answers:

Q3: Why did God make you and all things?

A: For his own glory.

Introduce the third catechism, and excitedly inform the child you’ll find out what these three things have to do with the lesson.

BOOK

The Bible teaches us that God created the world and us for his own glory. When we talk about God’s glory, we are talking about how great and good God is.

Show a picture of a beautiful nature scene, like a forest or mountain. God made the whole world—the blue sky, the bright sun, the raging rivers, and the little birds that sing. Listen to what Psalm 19:1 says:

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

The sky and the mountains glorify God. They show people how great and good God is. They remind us that God created all things. Not only that, God made us for his own glory, too.

We are to be like mirrors that reflect how good and great God is. We are to be like a pair of binoculars that gives a clearer view of what God is like. We are also like flashlights that shines the light of Jesus in this dark and sinful world. We are made to glorify God. The Bible teaches us in 1 Corinthians 10:31:

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

In everything we do, we are to show others how great and good God is. This is why God made us.

LOOK

  • Why did God make you and all things? For his own glory.
  • What does it mean to glorify God? To show others how great and good God is.

Sometimes, we are not very good reflections, pointers, and sources of light. We have sinful hearts, and they keep us from glorifying God. But God solved the problem of sinful hearts by sending His Son Jesus to come to earth, and live like us. Jesus became a man, and always glorified God. Jesus lived a perfect life and died on the cross to take the punishment that we deserve for our sins. If we follow and trust in him, God will forgive us our sins and teach us how to glorify Him. In fact, Jesus Himself said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12, ESV)

TOOK

Create a pair of binoculars using tissue paper rolls to bring home the lesson about glorifying God.

Tape together two toilet paper rolls side by side. Cut a strip of paper approximately 3×11 inches wide. Let your child decorate the paper as desired with tape, markers and the like. Wrap the decorated paper around the pair of toilet paper rolls and secure on the underside with more tape. Hole punch the outside of both rolls and add a strap using cording, rope or string

TP craft photo and instructions is taken from Raising Arizona Kids.

Another thing you could do is to share about the life and ministry of Augustine, the church father. As a young boy, he was full of mischief—he stole pears from his neighbor just because he enjoyed doing wrong. But his mother prayed for him regularly until one day, God saved him and he became a bishop.

Augustine wrote books that God used to help many people understand the Bible. In one of those books, he wrote: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” That means, the purpose why God made each of us is to glorify Him. If we’re not doing showing others how great and good God is through our words, thoughts and actions, we are not doing what we were originally created to do.

Related Resources