Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Teaching Chinese in a Bilingual Family

My hubby and I have determined to teach our kid(s) Chinese before we even had any yet. Now we have a baby daughter. From day 1 after she was born, I am talking to her in Chinese, my hubby talking to her in English.

She did not say any words until she was 14 months old, meanwhile, she understood everything we said to her, either in Chinese or in English. Now, she is 16 months old. Her vocabulary is building up slowly. To my big surprise, she even picks up words that I did not teach her purposely. One day, she was sitting by her tabling, where she colors or doodles with crayon. She kept saying Bei Bei Bei while pointing to the cupboard above the island where we keep her crayons. All of a sudden, it became clear that she was asking for crayons. She not only knew how to see crayon in Chinese, but aslo she paied attention to where the crayons are kept. Crayons are called La (4) Bi (3) in Chinese, literally are translated into Wax Pen. Kids are natural learners!

To me, she can speak quite a few Chinese words curretnly, such as Bi(3)=pen, Mao(1)=cat, Tu(4)=rabbit, Bi(2)=nose, and etc. Of course, her articulation is not perfect yet. Still, to my Chinese ears, they are legible. As a Mother, I don't miss a chance to brag how smart she is to my hubby. However, to his Amercian ears, all those Chinese words sound the same to him. The smart one is not our daughter, but me, who can expand one sound that our daughter can make to many more Chinese words. How funny this is! In the mean time, this is quite challeanging, I have to admit. It would make me feel appreciated if my daughter would be able to speak Chinese when she grows up.

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