Family Language Alive - Children Learning Chinese

Situation #1.8: I am afraid my child will get confused with learning both languages at the same time if she is switching back and forth in English and Chinese…

August 30, 2010

1.8 Main Article

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Situation #1.8: I am afraid my child will get confused with learning both languages at the same time if she is switching back and forth in English and Chinese.Reality: There may be an initial threshold of struggle when your child is acquiring two languages at the same time in the beginning. You may need to be prepared to give extra support during that period. Research has recommended that a bilingual child should learn how to read in the home language at an early age, even before she learns English or enters school. This may be extremely difficult to achieve, especially when children are entering schools at a very young age in many countries today. Furthermore, most schools usually make no provisions to help and support your child in learning her native language. Therefore, home should become naturally the most probable place to nourish that learning. Time would only get scarcer as your child becomes more occupied with school work.

It is also beneficial to know that research has confirmed that a functionally bilingual child will have little difficulty learning to read two languages at the same time. Language mixing, a mixing of both languages unknowingly in the same utterance of a young child, should not be seen as confusion, but rather as a natural course of learning two languages.

Considerations:

  • How much time and support have I given my child in acquiring two languages at the same time, especially in the beginning?
  • What is the overall percentage of words of each language is my child speaking in a sentence of thought?
  • Are there words my child knows only in one language? How can I help her expand her vocabulary in different situations?
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