Header Ads

header ads

Writing in my third language

Mylene Leumin: Filipina-American author - FILAM

I am a writer, and I have always been inclined to writing ever since I have learned grammar in school.

For someone whose first language is English, it is not surprising to be a writer; but having published a book for children and to be asked the question in the U.S., "Did you write it in English or in your language?" surprises me. Most Filipino writers I know, write in English - and proficiently. Unless one had a further degree in Filipino language, then this is another unique story.

Anyone who grew up in the Philippines and finished a degree through the country's educational system,  can totally relate to this blog.  The country, being so diverse in its culture has 8 major languages and over 170 dialects. Small archipelago as it is, the neighboring townspeople do not speak the same language as the other, nor their dialects/languages come similar as Portuguese would be to Spanish.

So as an Ilocano, I spoke Ilocano in my daily life, except in formal instructions at school. As early as kindergarten through college years, Philippine curriculum has 2 languages as a  requirement to learn: the Tagalog (every Filipino needs to understand each other by learning this common language) and English. However, the medium of instruction is in English. From my memory, yes, we recited in English; we communicated in English; we wrote essays in English; debated in English; wrote papers in English; did research papers in English, etc. Having said this, by the time a Filipino student graduates in college, not only grammar is good but proficiency is present in the language in all levels such as: listening comprehension, reading, writing, and speaking. The accent might be heavy, but the ability cannot be under-rated. So it is kind to remind friends to refrain from slowing down, or syllabicating their speech and talking loud to a heavy-accent Filipino. Heavy accent does not translate to poor English. It happens to my parents who both have Doctorate degrees in Education.

As a mom now with 3 children that are in the current educational system in the U.S., I wish that public schools introduced second language, not in middle school years but in elementary years when the pupils  are younger to hone it. My children are not as proficient in their second language as we are in our secondary and tertiary languages - not in all levels of proficiency as I've mentioned.

Now back to my writing in English, I did further studies in writing after my college years. Not because I wanted to publish one day, but I wanted to express myself better in writing. I ventured into publishing my articles and short stories as a part of my assignments in school, though I was warned that I might first fill up my wall with rejection slips before I even got my first publication. It came to me like a probability getting struck by lightning or winning the lottery. However, I must have been a lucky statistics because my first entry was published right away in a magazine. All the other submissions followed and were all published by other magazines.

So here is my journey to embracing my third language. Now I'm an Author/Publisher of illustration books for children 3  and up. Here I'm posting my book titles: Alitaptap - How The firefly Got Its Light. Coming in March, is Pagong - How The Turtle Got Its Shell. Because I want it to strongly represent my Philippine culture, I collaborate very closely with my illustrator. And by the way, my English is not perfect - just good enough.

I'm glad to share this awareness to people who may have minimal idea or who have interest of our educational background in English.

Follow Mylene Leumin on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Check my author page to see my books: amazon.com/author/myleneleumin.

Post a Comment