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Lone 3 yr old gweilo withdraws from Mandarin

  1. #1
    Newbie_hk is offline Registered User
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    Lone 3 yr old gweilo withdraws from Mandarin

    BACKGROUND
    I've just enrolled my 3 year old to an international kindy where she is the only native English speaker in her class (there is another gweilo in a different class). The medium of instruction is in English except for 20 mins of Mandarin. The kids speak Cantonese socially and only a few speak to her in English. Mind you these are very early days.

    ISSUE
    Come Mandarin time (20 mins), my daughter withdraws. I don't blame her as they don't speak a word of English at that time and her English speaking teacher sits beside her to help her out amongst the local kids.

    We have no issues with her learning the language or being the only non-Chinese kid in her class as this is what we came here for. We don't speak a word of any of the languages but we do intend to take some lessons as soon as we get settled.

    QUESTION:
    Will my child ever catch up with the language?
    Did we throw her at the deep end and should we have put her in a school with more English speaking kids first so she won't get too lost in her first months in HKG?
    Or will she eventually learn by exposure and get over her initial apprehension?

  2. #2
    mummymoo is offline Registered User
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    Newbie_hk, we had a similar experience with our DD, withdrawing, wandering around the room when stories were read however after about 6 months, a light bulb moment has somehow occurred and she is into it! And babbles at home in Chinese. It helps her dad now makes the effort to speak to her in Chinese and I am learning, so I think you learning will help. It's also pretty cute to watch her communicate with her classmates now, she speaks to them in english and they reply in cantonese but somehow it works!

    Persistence pays.

  3. #3
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    carang is offline Registered User
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    my kids go to a local kindergarten, they are not the only western or mixed kids in the class. the teachers explained to me the first year my oldest was there that in the first year, the western kids generally just sit and listen. the second year, they start to take part and by the third year they can answer the teachers questions and pretty much understand everything that is going on.

    i'd say relax and give it time. it's only natural for her to withdraw a little bit if she doesn't know what's going on! she'll catch on eventually....imagine people moving to canada/uk/australia etc without speaking english.. they learn quickly, especially the kids, because they have to!

  4. #4
    lesliefu is offline Registered User
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    don't worry too much - she's probably absorbing every word of that "strange" language! it's natural for her to withdraw because she probably is a bit lost...but kids are fast learners...she'll be OK.

  5. #5
    geo-seb is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newbie_hk View Post
    We don't speak a word of any of the languages but we do intend to take some lessons as soon as we get settled.
    Here is a quick lesson: Gweilo is only used for men - usually adults. Young Western girls are called gwai mui. I wouldn't use those terms though, especially not to refer to myself, family and friends.

  6. #6
    Newbie_hk is offline Registered User
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    Thanks everyone for the reassurance & the quick lesson too. Really appreciate it. It's reassuring to know her reaction is normal & she'll learn to cope eventually.
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  7. #7
    howardcoombs is offline Registered User
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    Newbie_hk : What are your goals with this kindie? The reason I ask is that 20 minutes a day is quite useless to learn the language properly and speak it fluently. Sure, the little ones will sing and learn colors and say a few common words, but I would not expect much even after a few years.

    If you want your child to learn Mandarin (or Cantonese for that matter), you really need to look into something more intensive. At minimum 50/50, but better to be fully immersed.

    HC

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