Whenever I’m asked, “How did you learn English?” I can’t help but smile. While some might find these questions tiresome or even offensive, for me, they were a reminder of a unique journey that began long before I set foot in the United States and well before I started formal schooling.
Even back in those days, most Filipinos learn English from school because all subjects, except for the Filipino subject, were taught in English. As to how well one can learn English from school, it depends of course on the child’s learning ability. In my case, I had an exceptional teacher.
Tagalog was my first language growing up. My mother, a frustrated teacher that she was, took on the role of teaching me English before I went to school. She came up with an ingenious teaching method that put me years ahead of my peers in terms of my ability to speak and comprehend English.
Her approach was straightforward yet effective: she introduced me to the world of translation. On some days, I would translate stories from Tagalog to English; on others, I would do the reverse. This method sharpened my language skills and became my bridge to a world of new opportunities.
My mother’s approach to teaching English highlights the lasting impact of innovative teaching and its role in nurturing a child’s interests and career aspirations. Early exposure to English broadened my horizons. It reshaped my thinking, fueled my imagination, and gave me a new medium for expression, eventually leading me to discover my passion for writing and storytelling.
As I reflect on those translation sessions, I view them as the initial steps toward finding my global voice as a woman in business—built upon the solid foundation my mother laid with her strong passion, love, and creativity.