Forums  •  Classifieds  •  Events  •  Directory

 
Page 3 of 4 FirstFirst 1234 LastLast

Fluency in English and Chinese

  1. #17
    spockey is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    HK
    Posts
    529
    Quote Originally Posted by carang View Post
    at 19 months, she cannot yet distinguish the two languages. that won't happen for another 1-2 years! just leave it and repeat what she has said in english.
    I'm going to disagree with Cara's point here... Studies have shown that some kids can distinguish between the two languages from an even earlier age.

    I'm no expert but having done the research project, I'm happy to share the strategies that have been shown to work with expat families in Hong Kong not limited to Chinese/English. The research project was on bilingualism in HK amongst expats particularly expats who are trying to maintain a language not spoken in the "resident country" and found the following:

    (A) The only way to succeed like a lot of the mums have mentioned is through perseverance and persistence i.e. one parent one language strategy, creating language domains e.g. playgroups in that language, church service...

    Even so, there is no guarantee for a child to become an active bilingual - speaks both languages. There is no set system in which a child metabolises language as Cara mentioned before... how one child processes the language may be different and may result in different outcomes... e.g. passive bilingualism - understanding but not using the language. Lots of Australian migrants end up being passive bilinguals.

    For mums who have managed to produce active and equal bilinguals! Congratulations! Not an easy feat given that studies have shown that it is common for a child to be better versed in one language than another.

    Studies have also shown that where a parent uses a language which he/she is better versed in, the success rate is higher e.g. If German is not your mother tongue, the outcome of raising a proficient German speaker is not likely because you'll screw up the natural grammar of the child. In our family, we use only English or German (between father and son). Our son prefers English when we are both around but switches to German when it's just one-on-one with dad - it has become their secret language.

    Cara's strategy has also shown to work - correct me if I'm wrong Cara with regard to your approach - English only (or most of the time) and sending her son to a Cantonese school. I've seen this work with another non-English speaking family. The parents sent their child to an English kinder and the results were simply amazing!

    Bilingualism is complex and there is no set answer. Just provide the opportunities and let it all pan out.

  2. #18
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Sai Kung
    Posts
    6,259
    no, it is not english only at our home.

    my hubby is local chinese and really tries to use cantonese, as does his family (most of whom speak no english at all). he understood most of what was said to him in cantonese before we sent him to local kindie. but he just didn't want to speak.


    as for my previous comment, i should have written, MANY children cannot distinguish two or more languages until they get to 2-3 years of age at which point something just 'CLICKS' in their brain and they are able to distinguish and KNOW that they are two separate languages. our older one KNEW before that "mama" talked one way, while mummy talked differently. however, it wasn't until he was over 3 that he actually UNDERSTOOD the differences.

    it's only now that we say, "no, say that in chinese" that he can actually translate what he said from one language to the other.

    asking a 19 month old to switch might be a little difficult. they are still figuring out the whole talking process.
    (PS> i have a 20 month old, so it's easy for me to compare.)

  3. #19
    mykids is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    kowloon
    Posts
    5

    My kids learning langauages

    My family has a trilingual environment as I am Japanese -Spanish Canadian ( but i only speak English Fluently ) and my husband is Hong Kong Chinese (he can speak English and Mandarin fluently on top of his Cantonese ) . Anyways, we have 2 daughters one is 7 1/2, and my little one is 2 1/2.

    My older daughter was born in Canada so she was exposed to English most of the time on top of, a bit of Spanish and French ( my cousins were in French school and loved to teach her ) and we moved to Hong Kong when she was 2 1/2. She understood English and spoke a little ( only words rather than whole sentences ) but once she started pre-school ( Cantonese ) whole day and with my in-laws also speaking to her in Cantonese she hated it ( for the first 3 months) but she picked it up and 6 months later ( she just turned 3 by this time ) she understood Cantonese completely. Anyways now at 7 1/2 she speaks fluently and can translate English to Cantonese and the other way around without a thought. And she is doing ok with picking up Mandarin as she must learn it in school, but she can also remembers all the things my cousins taught her in French when she was 2.

    But with my little one (who is 2 1/2 now) she was born in Hong Kong and we always used all 3 languages (Eng. Canto, and Mand.) She can understands all 3 languages but she doesn?t speak too much (she says words, counts in 3 languages and Japanese which she picked up on TV) but she can?t speak in full sentences yet.

    I feel that even if little kids don?t speak too much, it is ok, as learning languages is SO MUCH easier when you?re a child rather than when you?re older. I often let my daughters watch kids programs in all languages as long as they enjoy watching them and i find that they can sing and say words which are used in the programs.
    :yeah2

  4. #20
    mykids is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    kowloon
    Posts
    5

    Do our Best !!!

    oh yeah my kids ( and some of my friends kids who speak more than one langauage ) realized that mom can speak English and not much Cantonese ( or Jewels mom speak English for my daughter's friends ) so they speak English to me only, and daddy speaks and likes to speaks Cantonese more so they speak Cantonese with Daddy and Mandarin with other friends who speak Chinese better. My kids and their friends do this automatically not because we tell them to do so . I think it is just their naturally instinct to do such thing.

    I BELIEVE that all children have their own pace in everything and as a parent we can just do our best to support and guide them.

  5. #21
    carey is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    China
    Posts
    241
    I have been trying to find a tread like this. I am so happy that I found it.

    I have learned l lot from this thread and thinking to try the one parent, one language method and going to stick to it.

    Cantonese and Mandarin are my mother tongue. My husband speaks English and German. Between us, we can only speak English at home.

    I am better versed in English, but not a native speaker. But I am a little concerned that since I am not a native speaker ( I am fluent, yet, perhaps not a 100% native), we might teach him the " Wrong language". My husband is better in German.

    I have a big extended family living close to us and they are the one who help with caring for the baby and we spend time with together. so I think our child would understand the local dialect too.

    I know that children have their ways of figuring out the differences in language and acquiring it better than adults. But I am also concerned that with so many languages speaks around him, he would be really confused. As a result, slow down his learning.

    As parents, we think, in the end, our child would have to speak all three languages, English, Chinese and German. But we don’t want to impose this on him at an early age. Moreover, speaking and being a native speaker is also different. I have talked to a friend who grew up in different language background. He felt that he was caught in the between of not being good at any of the languages. He said although they speak the languages, but people thought he sounded foreign.

  6. #22
    carey is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    China
    Posts
    241

    ask for advice---language learning

    The research project was on bilingualism in HK amongst expats particularly expats who are trying to maintain a language not spoken in the "resident country" and found the following:

    (A) The only way to succeed like a lot of the mums have mentioned is through perseverance and persistence i.e. one parent one language strategy, creating language domains e.g. playgroups in that language, church service...

    Even so, there is no guarantee for a child to become an active bilingual - speaks both languages. There is no set system in which a child metabolises language as Cara mentioned before... how one child processes the language may be different and may result in different outcomes... e.g. passive bilingualism - understanding but not using the language. Lots of Australian migrants end up being passive bilinguals.

    For mums who have managed to produce active and equal bilinguals! Congratulations! Not an easy feat given that studies have shown that it is common for a child to be better versed in one language than another.

    Studies have also shown that where a parent uses a language which he/she is better versed in, the success rate is higher e.g. If German is not your mother tongue, the outcome of raising a proficient German speaker is not likely because you'll screw up the natural grammar of the child. In our family, we use only English or German (between father and son). Our son prefers English when we are both around but switches to German when it's just one-on-one with dad - it has become their secret language.

    Cara's strategy has also shown to work - correct me if I'm wrong Cara with regard to your approach - English only (or most of the time) and sending her son to a Cantonese school. I've seen this work with another non-English speaking family. The parents sent their child to an English kinder and the results were simply amazing!

    Hi spockey, Is there a way I can access the full article of the research?

    and I wonder if have suggestion for my situation---I am definitely thinking to send my child to an English international school as soon as he is old enough, where he also learns some Chinese. Perhaps it would be better for me to talk to him in English only and my husband to talk to him in German. Or you think it would be better for me to talk in Cantonese since we live in a Cantonese speaking/Chinese society and his father talks to him in English and save German for a later age.

    Thank you for your time.
    Carey

  7. #23
    spockey is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    HK
    Posts
    529
    Sorry Carey, it's an unpublished paper I wrote for my Masters. It's unpublished for now as I may consider it as part of a future PHD. If you are interested though on Bilingualism, you can also search for articles on Google Scholar... but most of them require some sort of access through a university. I have a basic textbook on bilingualism though.

    We currently have this arrangement:

    Dad to son - German
    Mum to son - English
    Dad-Mum-son - English
    Helper to son - English

    School - English plus Mandarin twice a week.

    Reading - We alternate reading days... English with mum and German with dad (we both work). The reading exercise in German we only started after summer. The reading in German is developing his German wonderfully! Reading really helps!

    The most bizarre thing is happening to us though... our son is picking up Cantonese and Mandarin at his English nursery. We can't work out why. Either (a) the kids at the nursery are using more Cantonese/Mandarin or (b) the Mandarin lessons are really effective & the help there speaks Cantonese.

    English is his dominant language right now. German is a secret language between dad and son... Mandarin/Cantonese... a totally surprising development.

    I'd say keep to the one parent one language system... in your case, use your mother tongue so as to develop the child's natural grammar. English - Just send your child to an English kinder like ESF, attend English playgroups like Baby Buddies... it's quite easy to pick it up. As for Cantonese... I don't have a suggestion and honestly don't find a great use for it unless you are planning to send him to a local school.

    Whatever your decision... just bear in mind that using your native language is probably the best in communicating your youngin to develop their natural grammar.

    Good Luck!

  8. #24
    fennho's Avatar
    fennho is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Kowloon Station (West)
    Posts
    466
    hi there

    i'm fluent in Mandarin and English but have decided to speak to my baby (now 12mths old) in Mandarin since birth cos i figured English is an easier language to pick up when she starts attending school. My husband who's also bilingual in Mandarin and English, is supposed to speak to her in English but becos we both conversed in a mixture of Eng/Mandarin at home, he ended up speaking to her in Mandarin most of the time as well! (of the little time he had with her after he knocks off from work and before she sleeps!). I'm thinking of sending her to playgroups where parents attend with the child, but i'm now at a lost of whether i shud send her to an English speaking one or a Mandarin one. On one hand, i'd like her to attend an English one but that would mean i have to switch to talking to her in English...would this confuse her cos i can tell she's just starting to understand me, simple instructions like give me, go there in Mandarin at home. Any advises? Thanks!

Page 3 of 4 FirstFirst 1234 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 0
    Last Post: 06-21-2009, 09:58 PM
  2. About the dual English/Chinese names on official documents
    By mrg9192 in forum Preparing for the Arrival
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 09-05-2008, 05:57 PM
  3. Chinese vs English Kindergarten
    By snowball in forum Education
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 01-07-2008, 11:17 PM
  4. good mix of chinese and english education
    By eltina in forum Education
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 12-17-2007, 09:27 PM
  5. english speaking chinese medecine doctor?
    By merichan in forum Family Health
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 09-29-2006, 12:35 PM
Scroll to top