Does Your Kid Spontaneously Translate?

Interesting subject. At 18 months, my girl’s only starting to create two word sentences, so I haven’t experienced yet what you’re all talking about, but I look forward to it.

It does require serious effort. Although I’ve been here 6 years, my Chinese is extremely basic, but I’ll often speak to my girl in Chinese, rather than English, despite my wife telling me to use English. It may be partly because I’ve grown accustomed to hearing certain words (bottle, sleep, dog, bath, don’t want, etc) in Chinese rather than English and because, even before she was born I tried to use my lousy Chinese as much as possible in order to improve it. Maybe I should try harder to use English only, but I find it very difficult. But somehow I don’t think I will cause irreparable harm.

Really??? What does that mean? Does she pee standing up? Is that possible for a girl (without it running down her legs)?

[quote=“Mother Theresa”]Interesting subject. At 18 months, my girl’s only starting to create two word sentences, so I haven’t experienced yet what you’re all talking about, but I look forward to it.

It does require serious effort. Although I’ve been here 6 years, my Chinese is extremely basic, but I’ll often speak to my girl in Chinese, rather than English, despite my wife telling me to use English. It may be partly because I’ve grown accustomed to hearing certain words (bottle, sleep, dog, bath, don’t want, etc) in Chinese rather than English and because, even before she was born I tried to use my lousy Chinese as much as possible in order to improve it. Maybe I should try harder to use English only, but I find it very difficult. But somehow I don’t think I will cause irreparable harm.

Really??? What does that mean? Does she pee standing up? Is that possible for a girl (without it running down her legs)?[/quote]

I don’t think you’ll do any harm, but my question is why not? We spoke English and Chinese to our son. After a while, when he started speaking, it was about even. Then he spoke much more Chinese. Then I wigged out and worried that he wouldn’t be able to communicate with me very well in English. But he caught up and now has little things that trip him up, like “Close the light” but no big deals.

The main thing is this really. READ to your daughter every day for as long as she will allow. Talk about everything under the sun with her, everything you do. There shouldn’t be a problem. This is particularly useful if you have to be away from home a lot when she’s little.

peace

  1. Primarily because I’m not making a conscious effort to speak Chinese to her. It just comes out.

  2. In addition, I want to improve my Chinese and it’ll be hard to do so if I’m forbidden from speaking Chinese with my girl. A significant portion of my time is spent with her and she’s the one person whose abilities are closest to my own – my Chinese is insufficient for carrrying on a real conversation in the workplace, etc.

  3. I do speak English with her often, but I also use Chinese.

But, if it really matters, maybe I’ll listen to my wife and make a more serious effort to cut out the Chinese.

No problem there. We’ve got piles of childrens’ books everywhere (in English and Chinese), our girl loves them and we’re constantly reading together and alone as well as talking and playing in the house, on bike rides, in the park, etc. She gets plenty of attention and stimulation. The only issue is whether she’s learning some bad Chinese from me as well, which she probably is.

we did this OPOL thing and it worked well for us. even better for #2 daughter as she gets extra exposure. since a 7-week vacation at home at sars time she has been nearly fluent for her age. strange side effect is that the two of them refuse to speak Chinese or Taiwanese to me, or English to mom. and i mean refuse. but that’s ok. with each other they alternate. when we were in the states this summer it was almost all english. now more mixed.

Also, I wouldn’t try to cut out your speaking Chinese MT. It doesn’t really matter, I would think, as long as MOST of what she hears you say is English.

A cool ancillary benefit of having a kid here if your Chinese is not so hot, is that you get to learn a lot of Chinese FROM your kid.

I can even say rhinoceros beetle in Chinese now! :slight_smile:

Oh yeah, and you haven’t lived until you’ve received a withering look of contempt from a 4-year-old girl as she corrects your tones…

[quote=“jdsmith”]
The main thing is this really. READ to your daughter every day for as long as she will allow. Talk about everything under the sun with her, everything you do. There shouldn’t be a problem. This is particularly useful if you have to be away from home a lot when she’s little. [/quote]
Ab-so-freaking-lutely.
This is critical, for about 50 good reasons.
My girl starts first grade TODAY :bravo: , and a couple of weeks ago I gave her some diagnostics from some Canoock School Boards, she tested out as like 4th grade reading level, her Chinese is equally good.
Ooops, I guess I’m straying into
[url]My kid's a damn geen-yass! this territory…
Yes, jd, we are indeed cool…

[quote=“the chief”]All trans-urination issues aside, when we were expecting, a very good friend who’s in the (legitimate) ESL publishing game told me about this established learning model, the name of which I’ve since long forgotten.
The model proscribes, for at least the first 4 or 5 years or so, each parent communicating with the child in only their native language (This may seem like common sense, but you might be surprised at how often it requires a conscious effort).
The model claims that strict adherence to this pattern is the most effective way to ingrain both languages into the child’s speech capabilities.
We have certainly found this to be true, there’s no question that the chieflette has two equally functional native languages, and never even showed any awareness of the difference between the two until she was like 4 1/2 or so.[/quote]

Of course, ASSUMING that the mom is the one speaking chinese, then they children could end up speaking like a girl in accent or tone. Just trying to prevent little boys from getting picked on…

I wouldn’t do that… To start with I wouldn’t want to teach her that white faces speak English and Asian faces speak Chinese.

And second I wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to learn a language alongside my child. That has to be something rare and wonderful. Don’t listen to carefully to the “experts”. Language is infinitely huge and complicated and they have only begun to scratch the surface.

Edited - I just read the above posts and realized that at least one expert agrees with me. Sorry jd. :blush:

I wouldn’t do that… To start with I wouldn’t want to teach her that white faces speak English and Asian faces speak Chinese.
[/quote]

I thought of this originally, although I think it’s pretty facile, since, obviously, she’s going to have full awareness otherwise. I mean, I’m from Canada, you know? So there’s little chance of her mentally ghettoizing linguistic communications.
Unlike all of the people around her, who still assume that if you got one set of features, you are only genetically capable of one language.
And the process doesn’t require that the kid never hear the parent use the other language, my wife and I still largely communicate in English, and obviously when were out, I’m speaking Mandarin, it’s just in terms of direct address.
As it turned out, in my daughter’s case, she was meeting grownups who looked like corn-fed Iowa farmboys speaking Mandarin w/ her Ma, and Overseas Chinese family friends who jabber in Canook English with me, so she has kind of assimilated an All Bets are Off approach, responding to whomever in the language with which they first address her.

I take it you agree with me but that you find the notion facile. :s

Yeah, sorry, that didn’t exactly come out right, I meant that it also occurred to me but, upon reflection, I realized there wasn’t much to worry about.
Sorry for any wrong impression.

I think native English-speaking parents in Taiwan can afford to be more flexible: it’s a major world language and it’s going to be emphasized throughout their education.

Without that luxury, I think your only chance of producing a balanced bilingual is by following one of the models religiously: eg OPOL, or mLIH (minority language at home, Chinese outside the door: this has been shown to be more effective, and of course eliminates any “white face English, Asian face Chinese” concerns.)

I advise against native-English-speaking Dads speaking Chinese to their kids. There’s a real danger your child could end up with sub-native ability in English.
Once kids go to elementary school it’s an uphill battle to keep the English improving at a rate that comes even close to the rate of improvement in Chinese. Dad (usually it’s Dad) really has to maximize the amount of time he spends interacting with his children in English, IMHO.

[quote=“moomoojuice”]I advise against native-English-speaking Dads speaking Chinese to their kids. There’s a real danger your child could end up with sub-native ability in English.
Once kids go to elementary school it’s an uphill battle to keep the English improving at a rate that comes even close to the rate of improvement in Chinese. Dad (usually it’s Dad) really has to maximize the amount of time he spends interacting with his children in English, IMHO.[/quote]

Yes, and this is great hope I have for this forum that we can get together and spend time with one another’s families, giving the kids the impression that Dad or Mom is NOT the only one who can speak English (the way it should or is natively spoken.) I think it’s great for kids to hang out with and communicate with other adults who are native speakers. *

*I don’t mean to step on toes of non-native speakers here. There are several forumosans I know who are not native speakers and are fluent in every regard.

[quote=“moomoojuice”]I advise against native-English-speaking Dads speaking Chinese to their kids. There’s a real danger your child could end up with sub-native ability in English.
.[/quote]

Specifically in the Taiwan context, do you mean? Because “minority language at home” prescribes that the whole family speaks Chinese when out and about, and it is one of the recognized models referred to in your earlier post.

Here’s my story, FWIW:

When we lived in the UK, my SO found it really difficult to talk to our boy in Mandarin, although it’s her native language (and even though she had no problems talking it to me!). I’ve never really understood why.

But then, when we were reunited in Taiwan after they’d been back here for a year while I’d stayed in England, I found I had to speak Chinese to our son to get through at all, although I tried to use English whenever I could. During the year, he’d had no exposure to English at all and had forgotten everything (even though at the beginning of that year he had only ever spoken English).

By about the middle point of the year, his Mandarin was indistinguishable from a Taiwanese child of his age, and his English mostly gone.

Over the last two years, I’ve put a LOT of effort into speaking English to him, reading to him, and talking non-stop about everything under the sun in English to him. He and I go travelling together whenever possible. I teach at a uni, so we spend most of the long holidays in the UK or elsewhere, and of course this helps enormously

And now, with him just starting guo xiao, I think we’re back on track. He’ll still say stuff like “open /close the light”, but occasionally he’ll come out with some gem like “Actually that’s quite similar to something that happened at school”!

As a foreigner woman married to a Taiwanese man I’m in a kind reverse situation then most of you guys. My son hears English all day everyday with me. I worry about him starting school and being behind all the other kids with his Chinese vocabulary, bo po mo fo etc. His father speaks Chinese to him after work and on weekends but we speak English to each other.

I guess maybe the year before school starts I’ll have to put him in Chinese kindergarten to make sure his vocab is up to par but he can’t live here his whole life and speak poor Chinese can he?

(Well I guess according to the goverment he can since all of us “foreigner wives” are supposed to be turning out such sub-standard students!) :wink:

[quote=“smithsgj”][quote=“moomoojuice”]I advise against native-English-speaking Dads speaking Chinese to their kids. There’s a real danger your child could end up with sub-native ability in English.
.[/quote]

Specifically in the Taiwan context, do you mean? . . . [/quote]

I’m somewhat in the same boat. My wife is Taiwanese and my daughter stays with a local nanny 9-5 during the week, so she’s getting plenty of Chinese now. But I’m presently applying/interviewing for jobs in the US and expect to move there by about the end of the year (our girl will be about 2).

So I feel she should get all the Chinese she can now; soon enough she’ll be immersed in English (although in the US we’ll send her to Chinese classes at least on the weekends). That’s part of the reason I don’t feel badly about her Chinese being better than her English now. In a few months the tide will start shifting.

Do yourself and your baby girl a favor MT and allow yourself a tad of selfishness now. If you don’t then all the changes you have made in your life to accomodate this little bundle of joy will begin eating a hole in your heart the size of a Collins Cobuild Advanced English Dictionary, which, interestingly enough, contains a good portion of the English your daughter will learn in her lifetime. By the sound of it the Chinese you will learn won’t amount to more than a ratty paperback with half the pages missing.

Heck, learn Chinese with her and call it a bonding experience if it will make you feel better. But whatever you do learn Chinese. Your wife and your girl are Chinese for god sakes…

Taiwanese but, yes, I do realize that I should take advantage of living in Taiwan to learn Chinese. I’ll never discuss business with my associates in Chinese, but it would be great to say more than “nay nay, go go” (bottle bottle, dog dog in my bad pinyin) with my child. I realize that, but so far haven’t had the motivation to act on the impulse. Perhaps your kick in the pants will help me get started.

Anyway, you know once you do it for awhile it starts to feel like muscle building for your brain and get kind of hooked on it. Once this happens motivation isn’t such a factor but finding an environment is.