Language Learning among an Ilocano-Kapampangan Multilingual Family
Keywords:multilingualism, language learning, family language
Families play a crucial role in fostering communication among their members, and language is the cornerstone of this interaction. A child's exposure to multiple languages significantly influences their aptitude for acquiring new linguistic skills. The ability to learn a language is intricately woven into a tapestry of circumstances that span a diverse range of factors. To comprehend the intricate dynamics of multilingualism, researchers delve into the nuanced experiences that shape how families embrace and navigate the languages they speak. In this pursuit, a researcher, a third-generation member of a multilingual family, undertook a study focused on an Ilocano-Kapampangan family lineage. The distinct features of these languages piqued her curiosity, driving her to explore the motivations that underpin their acquisition within her family.
The study adopted a narrative inquiry approach to glean insights from five family members: the paternal and maternal grandparents and three of their children. Regrettably, two family members were not part of the study – one declining participation and the other being unavailable during the data collection phase. Through unstructured interviews, the researchers delved into the unique experiences that shaped their acquisition of languages beyond their mother tongue. Employing content analysis, the gathered data was meticulously sifted and categorized, revealing the motivations that propelled their multilingual journey.
The findings unveiled a multitude of motivations that acted as catalysts for language acquisition. Before meeting his wife, the Kapampangan patriarch had already encountered the Ilocano language through radio broadcasts. His pursuit of employment led him to migrate to La Union, where he immersed himself in Ilocano-speaking environments. Collaborating with native speakers expedited his language learning process as he keenly absorbed linguistic nuances through attentive listening and communication attempts. Interestingly, he admitted to learning Ilocano somewhat unconventionally, as those around him often prompted him to express unfamiliar phrases, ultimately leading him to grasp their meanings and intricacies.
By the time the patriarch married the matriarch, their linguistic landscape expanded. Engaging with Ilocano and Kapampangan-speaking colleagues, the matriarch, too, acquired the Kapampangan language through passive interactions. The marriage itself fostered a conducive environment for language learning, with both partners taking on the roles of teachers, facilitating each other's linguistic development. Consequently, their children naturally imbibed Ilocano as their mother tongue while simultaneously being exposed to Kapampangan as their second language. However, the journey was not entirely smooth, as one child faced motivation stemming from negative experiences – teasing propelled her to master the Kapampangan language.
Another child's acquisition of Kapampangan was facilitated by a more knowledgeable mentor, exemplifying the role of guidance in language acquisition. Interaction played a pivotal role, with exposure to playmates, friends, and adults further shaping their linguistic prowess. Formal education later introduced additional languages, such as Tagalog and English. The influence of marriage and professional life emerged as influential factors, as one son expanded his linguistic repertoire through his wife and work-related interactions.