I'm from the US and living in Florida with my wife (who is Chinese) and 8 month old. My wife is a native Mandarin Chinese speaker and I'm a native English speaker. I'd say we're both pretty advanced in each other's languages and so far language in the house is about 80-90% Mandarin from the both of us. I'm trying to push us towards breaking the code-switching habit but it's pretty ingrained.
Our son is only 8 months and just making sounds now but he's been hearing the ml (Mandarin) since birth so hopefully it's going to take.
The Chinese community where we live is pretty small so most of his input is going to come from us for the foreseeable future. We're loading up on materials in Chinese, and I try to read to him at least once a day when he'll let me read instead of chewing on the pages.
I've seen a few non-native ml speakers on the board say they have trouble with kid's stuff like nursery rhymes and my way around this problem has been to get an online tutor. I talked to a bunch of teachers and finally found one who has a baby just a few months older than mine. It has been nice to have someone to ask about things you wouldn't really run into as an adult like what to sing during bathtime.
Thanks Adam and all the members of the forum for your posts. Reading your experiences has been really helpful especially for someone like me who lives in a place without a strong bilingual culture.
Welcome among us and what a brilliant idea you suggested about that tutor with a young child! I guess it depends on everybody's circumstances, though. Technically, I'm a non-native speaker but I didn't struggle too much thanks to my own past history and Youtube (!). On the other hand, my husband who is a native speaker did struggle to remember nursery rhymes.
I see you are going for the minority language at home (ml@h) approach. We switched to it last year and I found it is definitely the best technique -when circumstances allow it, of course - to provide more exposure to the ml and create the need in the child to use it.
Good luck on this long-haul journey and do keep us updated: we love to hear of successes but also of others parents' trials and errors: we learn more sharing our experiences together.
***"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars" - Oscar Wilde***
Pierre, welcome! And warm congratulations to you and your wife on the arrival of your first child earlier this year!
It certainly sounds like you have the right sort of mindful and proactive approach that will enable you to experience a lot of rewarding success over the years ahead. As long as you and your wife emphasize Mandarin as much as possible during these early, formative years--while "de-emphasizing" English to the degree that's realistic--I expect your son will eventually become a very active speaker of Chinese.
Beyond that, literacy in Mandarin will be a large challenge, of course, but steady progress in reading and writing is possible, too, as members of this community like Serina P have shown.
To explore all Mandarin-related posts at this blog, over the past few years, just use the search function with that keyword and you'll instantly get several pages of posts.
Adam Beck is the founder of Bilingual Monkeys and The Bilingual Zoo, and the author of the popular non-fiction book Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability amzn.to/22XKuCt and the humorous novel How I Lost My Ear amzn.to/2EsjVRS, both available worldwide.
What's on your mind right now? Just type and hit "Enter" to share it here!
Amy: Just received your novel Adam, just in time for the weekend! I already read 3 chapters and am loving the style! Congrats!
Feb 10, 2018 6:25:05 GMT 9
Adam Beck: That's so nice to hear, Amy! I look forward to more impressions as you continue reading!
Feb 10, 2018 10:46:14 GMT 9
Mayken: After writing a letter in the ML to her new friend for whom it is the ml, my daughter is now on the phone with her friend from ml country. (And hiding in her room with my phone. No more phone cords to hold her back.)
Feb 11, 2018 23:13:29 GMT 9
Nellie: Book ordered Adam!
Feb 15, 2018 6:20:36 GMT 9
Nellie: Mayken - so cute! The terrible teens are approaching!
Feb 15, 2018 6:21:21 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nellie, thank you! I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to your impressions!
Feb 15, 2018 6:34:04 GMT 9
Wojtek: I found sample Eiken tests on grade 5 and 4 (There was Adam's article) and did the first part with my daughter (20 questions). On Grade 5 she did 16 of 20 correctly and on grade 4: 12 of 20. Not so bad though. She failed those where grammar was included.
Feb 15, 2018 20:43:25 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Wojtek, your daughter is still very young so I would say those are really positive results! Your efforts are clearly producing a lot of progress. Good for you, and good for your daughter!
Feb 16, 2018 7:52:23 GMT 9
Undraa: A big congrats from my end to you for your new book Adam!
Feb 16, 2018 16:50:56 GMT 9
Wojtek: Big thanks, Adam. Those tests on grade 5 are so basic but anyway they prove that my girl understands them and knows the answers. That was quite interesting experience.
Feb 16, 2018 16:54:32 GMT 9
Wojtek: Congratulations on your book, Adam! I read the beginning on Amazon and as always I have the impression you took several pages from the dictionary with a range of sophisticated words and just put them in. That's why the book will be very valuable for me.
Feb 16, 2018 17:01:19 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Wojtek, thanks! Even if you're unfamiliar with some of the vocabulary, I think the lively story will carry you through the book. I hope you enjoy it, and also find it useful for your English!
Feb 16, 2018 18:43:12 GMT 9
Dani: Hi everyone, It has been a while... Congrats on your new book Adam! Would love to get a copy too.
Feb 17, 2018 8:30:36 GMT 9