Family Language Alive - Children Learning Chinese

Situation #2.5: We require Chinese to be spoken at home, but our child is reluctant to do so…

September 26, 2010

2.5 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 #2.5: We require Chinese to be spoken at home, but our child is reluctant to do so.Reality: At times, you may become discouraged when your child is reluctant to use the home language. Other pressures outside the home, such as that a teacher or a relative may say the child is not competent in English, or within the home, such as that the child is not living up to your expectation of competency in Chinese, may add to your doubts toward the benefits of Chinese learning. You may even be tempted to discontinue using Chinese at home with him altogether.

Research shows that continuing to speak to the child in Chinese would give the child at least a passive knowledge of the language, which may well be reactivated eventually. While it is advisable for you to persist in speaking Chinese to him, there may be special factors why your child is reluctant to use the home language. It is better to proceed carefully with an awareness of your child’s individual personality, while showing understanding and good humor. It is far worse to end up frustrating the child, demean the use of English, and indirectly place an adverse effect on his speaking Chinese. You may continue to offer him every opportunity available to use the home language and to help him express thoughts that are difficult for him in vocabulary and language forms. Expect a learning period. If you do require the rule of speaking Chinese at home, explain the reason you are doing so with compassion. Make it a family mission for everyone, especially if there are siblings. Listen attentively to his point of view, but be firm of your decision. This will most likely ensure a positive note on such action.

Family involvement is crucial to your child’s progress. Your viewpoint toward Chinese conveys the priority your child would have for the language. The learning of Chinese should not need to be pressured. Contrary to the common belief, it can be natural and fun. You can use both English and Chinese with your child interchangeably, emphasizing neither, allowing the child to regard both languages as workable communication means used by the family. Or you can make a choice of speaking Chinese solely based on your family situation. Remember that it is the way of life in most of the rest of the world to have more than one language. There are very few countries where people speak only one language.

Considerations:

  • What is my main reason for the rule enforcement of speaking Chinese at home?
  • What is my attitude toward the value and the learning of the Chinese language? And my child’s?
  • What is my family mission on my child’s learning of Chinese in the long run? Is he ready to understand this expectation at his age and when might I discuss this with him?
Share with friends...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedInPrint this page