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.
Mayken: My daughter's ml homework for this week included baking a cake - there's a cake in the story they read, and after each chapter there are questions and tasks, and the current chapter has the step-by-step recipe. She's to bring the cake to school too.
May 1, 2018 23:48:48 GMT 9
Amy: What a nice original homework! Makes such a change from standard homework, and I wouldn't be surprised if kids remember more from it! I like your bilingual school Mayken! Lucky little girl, and lucky Mummy!
May 2, 2018 0:00:43 GMT 9
Mayken: ml cake homework update: About half the class brought cake (8 out of 15), not all of them were the cake from the book recipe, but my daughter's was the most popular. (Maybe because we added food colouring and topped it with chocolate icing and smarties?)
May 4, 2018 5:58:10 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Cake is definitely my favorite kind of homework!
May 4, 2018 11:28:51 GMT 9
Jana: One of the best parts of having kids in bilingual school was getting Mother's Day cards in two languages! (With less-than-perfect spelling in both!) Ha!
May 15, 2018 9:16:08 GMT 9
Amy: (Twice) Lucky you Jana! So nice to read exciting pieces of news like yours!
May 16, 2018 5:46:25 GMT 9
Mayken: I still have that to look forward to, Jana! Mother's Day in our ML country is two weeks later, and the ml teacher goes along with that date. (It was last Sunday in our ml country.)
May 16, 2018 5:58:11 GMT 9