Family Language Alive - Children Learning Chinese


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What’s Going On In This World?

Our children are losing their native tongue, especially when they start spending more and more time in schools in a region where English is the dominant language used, or are speaking to us in English when we talk to them in Chinese. As parents, we try hard to help them preserve their language by sending them to Chinese language classes, requiring them to speak Chinese at home, or traveling to our homeland for extended periods of time for immersion in the language. How important is it to keep the language? How competent should they be? What else can we do?


Although thriving in a language that is not dominant in the environment can be hard work for everyone, it is very important to help our children keep their native language alive. Research shows that young children who are exposed to more than one language are cognitively more advanced than those who are not. They are also more likely to take on challenging tasks. What we usually do not realize is that the family plays an extremely important role in helping our children maintain and develop competency in their native language.


Who Can Benefit From This Website

It is to this purpose that this website is created to support the community – parents, teachers, grandparents, educators – whose interest lies in the development of the Chinese (or any home) language in children. The content provided here is meant to develop awareness of the benefits of bilingualism and biliteracy, but does not seek to provide solutions to every individual. It provides guidelines that are based on research in the educational field. It is here to help you reflect on what you are currently doing and to seek help in ways that you may not know about. The research information can help the process of learning become more effective and enjoyable at the same time. This website is here for us to encourage and communicate with each other across the globe during this process of maintaining a home language in a place where it is not dominantly used.


How to Use This Website?

We know that families are very busy in their lives. All the articles and comments are organized in the Archives on the side of the page so that the readers can pick and choose topics that are of greatest concern to them at that time. They include practical views of today’s families facing struggles of their children learning Chinese at various stages and degrees of competency.


As you give more thought toward how important it is for your child to have his home language as an asset for his life, let us not forget that this is indeed a challenging task. The mission that you decide to embark upon will require much planning and execution. Even with awareness and knowledge, the journey will be difficult. It is our hope that the information here has given you the chance and the practice to reflect on your child’s current situation in Chinese learning and to devise a mission for the cause. Have confidence. Do not give up at the first signs of difficulties. If you are willing, persistent and patient, your child, your family and your community will be enriched with the many benefits of bilingualism in the long run. Welcome to the journey!


Note: The wordings of “my/your child” are used in the articles only to make all the writings more consistent and are in no way suggesting any familial preferences. “We” suggests the voice of the educational researchers at large.

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