Language and Local Children’s Shows

While having a lone breakfast near the house the TV was open for everyone’s entertainment. As far as I know it was pretty common for local carinderias (eateries) to have this kind of leeway to customer patience, but what I find quite different that morning, was the educational children’s shows.

The television drew my attention as it played that familiar tune from a childhood that can’t yet afford cable. It was the flagship educational show for Math (or Maths, however you call it) that was around when I was a child, and I didn’t know they were airing it again, since I didn’t own a TV. But there was something strange about it this time around.

When the ‘instructor’ was teaching (basic subtraction), he was to teach in Filipino first, then translate the entire thing again, in English. This happened over and over, to the point that it was a little bit tedious, and all that was in my head was, “Hm. This wasn’t like this before!”

During my time, these shows were in Filipino 90+% at a time. The only English parts are terminologies. There were no sentences like, “Ang subtrahend ay nasa ilalim ng minuend; The subtrahend is below the minuend.” Sentences don’t repeat in both languages back then, it was only Filipino. This was peculiar to me because while I was watching these educational shows, the only show with a significant amount of English was… well… the English education show (it’s this one, people).

I wondered for my entire breakfast and the rest of my day if English had enough penetration in the country that they had to have this change in programs. I remember some time ago that there was speculation on whether morning cartoons should be dubbed locally, or they should retain their English voices (as far as I’m seeing, the former is still more dominant).

With the international media presented by the internet, kids nowadays are getting used to being fed information in English, may they be educational, or just some kids show about princesses that build snowmen out of thin air. Was that change really big enough to change the pattern of what once was, a fully Filipino-spoken show? Are kids appreciating the translations? If children are pre-dominantly knowledgeable with the local language, are the translations helping them learn english, and vice versa? Is the show reaching more audiences?

I don’t know. All I know is that the international language is gaining more popularity overtime, and I don’t know if that’s absolutely a good thing.


2 thoughts on “Language and Local Children’s Shows

  1. I’m not sure there is anything to worry about really. English has been around since 1898 and was introduced – though briefly – to the Philippines even earlier, back in 1762. In the end, no one should be relying solely on TV to teach their kids fundamentals, especially language. Like any other country, native tongue will always come first. Though, i do believe that the Philippines is seeing the importance of having their younger generations “know” the international language and there is nothing wrong with that. If a country in a global economy is going to survive, it needs to speak the lingo of the international community. We are 2015 and from what i see, watch and read, only a very small percentage (less then 0.01%) of “content” is in English. If you are concerned, you should promote your national language by always using it and teaching it to kids that are around you. How about a Tagalog translation of this blog? Anyhow, as someone married to a Filipina for nearly 15 years, that is how i see things.


    1. I understand where you’re coming from, and it is true that English is a crucial part of education. However, some families adopt the English language in their households, eliminating the abilities of some children to understand common Filipino words, and this increase is my concern. Both languages should be given importance.

      Thanks for sharing your views in the blog! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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