Family Language Alive - Children Learning Chinese

Situation #1.6: I am not sure if my child can be very competent in Chinese. I think I will let her go at her own pace. I would be very satisfied if she can write her own name…

August 30, 2010

1.6 Main Article

Share with friends...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page

Situation #1.6: I am not sure if my child can be very competent in Chinese. I think I will let her go at her own pace. I would be very satisfied if she can write her own name.Reality: Raising a child bilingually is no easy task. And raising a child to be biliterate (able to read and write as well as to listen and speak) seems like going against a storm. Bilingualism and biliteracy come with planning and do not come naturally, not in an English-dominant society anyway. The force is against you and your child for the most part.

In a study conducted in 2002, the researchers found that most of what has happened in the past based on a three-generation Anglicization is still happening today. Basically, an immigrant family raises their children while speaking their native language at home, but their children prefer English and may even speak to their parents in English if the parents know some English. When it is the children’s turn to raise their own household, they mostly use English with their children at home and hence their children would turn out to be monolingual, with at best, fragments of the native language. The study shows that by the third generation, more than 91% of Chinese children (ages 6-15) in a foreign land speak only English at home. Further, statistics have not even included biliterate children in this regard.

The reality is, if you are satisfied with her sole capability of writing her Chinese name, she will very likely be able to do just and only that.

Considerations:

  • What statistics of language competency in children are showing in my community of relatives and friends?
  • How competent* do I want my child to be in Chinese in the long run? When she is an adult? What about my grandchildren and generations after? What is my mission and goals for my child in learning Chinese?
  • When can I write down my mission and goals so I can refer back to them during the process of my child learning, especially during tough times? Can I set up a time of evaluation of this mission and goals periodically because family needs change from time to time?
  • What forces in the surroundings are detrimental to my child in the process of learning Chinese in light of my mission and goals?

*Examples of competencies in Chinese learning (Mission should be something personal that is suitable from your family perspective):

  • To be able to communicate with friends her age range
  • To be able to communicate with relatives in my native land
  • To be able to speak about a subject in Chinese school
  • To be able to read at different levels
  • To be able to write at different levels
  • To be able to study at a university in the native land
  • To be able to work functionally in a company in the native land

Share with friends...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page