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!
Agnese: Thank you! After this setback I feel stronger than ever! The same day of the incident I ordered plenty of books in the ml on Amazon and I'm reading every day new research on bilingualism and bilingual education. I'm ready to defend my goal! Thanks
Jul 19, 2018 18:37:58 GMT 9
Agnese: Thank you for the suggestion!
Jul 21, 2018 15:40:43 GMT 9
Mayken: My daughter met some inversed ML/ml kids today who live in our ml country. Their parents probably weren't thrilled they found n ML (for them) friend in their ml country. I'm sorry...a little bit.
Aug 7, 2018 2:07:34 GMT 9
Amy: Looks like the 3 weeks in ml1 country paid off: my ML mother reports my youngest would only speak ml1 to her! Lol Not sure ML childminder will be so happy when she returns... loool!
Aug 25, 2018 0:38:50 GMT 9
Mayken: Sounds like fun times ahead, Amy! Keep us posted.
Aug 27, 2018 23:15:08 GMT 9
Adam Beck: NEW! Something Strange Happened 2 Days After We Moved into Our New House (And Its Significance to Change and Transformation on the Bilingual Journey)buff.ly/2ww8WDD
Aug 31, 2018 10:30:39 GMT 9
Amy: Happiest bilingual mum in the world : the new lady who conducts activities in ml2 with my eldest just assessed her level as pretty much equivalent to that of a native ml2 child! After that awful back-to-school start, this is like music to my ears.
Sept 6, 2018 0:00:13 GMT 9
Wojtek: I've been thinking for a long time to write an update and hopefully, I will do it one day. My brother married a Russian woman. That was nice to see that my 5-year-old daughter could play with her and speak English together!
Sept 7, 2018 21:37:25 GMT 9
Wojtek: After some time, she ran up and told me: "She is speaking English!"
Sept 7, 2018 21:38:31 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nice to hear your happy news, Wojtek! And congratulations to your brother and his bride! It sounds like they may have a bilingual child in their future, too! Cheers to you all!
Sept 7, 2018 21:58:17 GMT 9
Mayken: Victor's flashcards look amazing! I hope I'll win the giveaway - if not, I'll purchase a set for Christmas for sure. Thanks Adam for sharing these gems with us!
Sept 26, 2018 23:32:30 GMT 9
Marisa: Adam, I second Mayken's enthusiasm and gratitude for your posting about Victor's flashcards, they look amazing, thank you so much for the post! I already bought one set
Sept 30, 2018 10:25:51 GMT 9