We are trying to raise our 11-month-old son trilingual (English, French and Mandarin). My husband and I are both native French speakers. We are both fluent in English. We live in a bilingual city (French/English) but our neighborhood is more English speaking. School will be in French.
I have an oral Mandarin level equivalent to a 7-year-old child and a lower elementary reading comprehension. Since my son was about 6 months old, I've been exclusively speaking in Mandarin to him (but French with my husband who doesn't know any Mandarin). I didn't start earlier because I didn't give much thought prior to that...my husband is only speaking in French to our son.
To improve my own Mandarin level, I've been studying 30min per day and it worked (my extended family have noticed my improvement). I am the only Mandarin input for now. So after reading Adam's book, I realized I am really swimming against the current (feeling like abandoning more than once). So my realistic expectation is for him to acquire a passive understanding and my ideal goal is to get him to a 5-6 year-old native speaker level. We are expecting high level for French and English (oral and literacy).
We decided to wait a little bit before introducing English since it is the majority language. I also feel that I cannot keep talking exclusively in Mandarin because at some point I'll need a richer vocabulary to explain things to him when he'll be older...but after reading a few books on raising bilingual kids, I'm determined to provide as much exposure as I can. Thanks all for taking the time to read!
Shangzhu, welcome! I know nurturing Mandarin is a large challenge for you, but I'm very glad that you didn't abandon this aim and that you now feel determined to do as much as you realistically can to foster an early foundation in this language. The truth is, as long as you sustain this commitment over the length of childhood, you and your son will travel a long way together, both of you making steady and satisfying progress.
And when you find that you need additional support from more advanced speakers of Mandarin, that support can be found locally or online. In fact, I'm sure my friend Amanda, the founder of Miss Panda Chinese, would be happy to hear from you and offer helpful advice. If you eventually reach out to her, please tell her I say hello!
So definitely keep at it, Shangzhu, day by day! Because even if your son's Mandarin level is initially more passive, it will still be a foundation that can be readily built on for further success, and then activated, in the future. And your son will ultimately be happy that you persevered!
Adam Beck is the founder of Bilingual Monkeys and The Bilingual Zoo, and the author of the book "Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability", praised worldwide by parents and experts in the field. Available at Amazon amzn.to/22XKuCt, the global Amazon sites, and other booksellers.
3 languages; lucky kid! I think you have a lot of things on your side: the fact that you grew up -if only in the beginning- speaking your ml, having access to family who speak that language, and living in a city where 2 languages are spoken.
Amy: Beautiful video Adam...and so true, as always! :). You enjoy your hiatus, and we look forward to reading you again in August! Otsukaresama deshita (thank you for your hard work)!
Jul 1, 2017 5:03:26 GMT 9
Mayken: My daughter's ML report card has the same percentage of A's as the ml one but surprisingly the non-A's are not in the same categories. Anyway, she's off to grade 2 at the bilingual school! (After well-deserved and ml-rich holidays!)
Jul 1, 2017 5:12:01 GMT 9
Nellie: Congratulations to your daughter Mayken!
Jul 3, 2017 9:57:10 GMT 9
Wojtek: Back from journey from Croatia. It wasn't English speaking country but ... I was with my daughter for the whole 2 weeks 24/7!
Jul 8, 2017 19:04:43 GMT 9
Wojtek: Being all day with daughter makes really difference! She spoke definitely more and I had more chance to correct her, suggest better phrases, etc. That was great!
Jul 8, 2017 19:08:01 GMT 9
Mayken: Wojtek, a lot of one-on-one time is one of the perks of holidays, no matter where.
Jul 9, 2017 19:55:27 GMT 9
Amy: Baby seems to pick up a lot of ml2! Yeaterday she surprised me answering back "whyyyy?" and this morning when asked how she was she replied "very well"!! <3 Beautiful moments of our bilingual journey <3
Jul 10, 2017 19:21:02 GMT 9