How did your kids adapt to a Mandarin language environment?

My young kids (4&6) will be moving to Taipei sometime this summer from Hong Kong.
They are fluent in English and Cantonese, and we plan to enroll them in the local school system.

I know they’re at the perfect age to adjust to a new country and language. Still, I worry about how they’ll adapt.

Because my kids have fluency in a related language, I’m guessing their situation is a bit different from English speaking expat kids. But maybe not.

Do any parents out there have experiences or advice they can share?

Probably a good idea to get some mandarin exposure now for the six year old.

Also, heads up, it’s unlikely your 4 year old will be able to access public school. So you’ll probably be talking about a private kindergarten.

Thanks. My 6yr old gets some Mandarin lessons at school, but its hard to know the quality. It’s pretty basic, I’m sure.

My wife is setting up the school arrangements, and aware of what you mention. Thanks for the tip.

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cant speak from experience but a few friends from HK that moved here with kids had a fairly easy time adjusting. racially they look similar so it wasnt much of an issue there, and with the written language they were all fairly well situated. they had an accent which went away pretty quick (in my opinion). but i know 2 of them had troubles (grade 6 and 10) moving here with some minor bullying based on accent, but it went away pretty quick.

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That’s good to hear. Didn’t consider the written aspect. I suppose schoolyard teasing and bullying is something that can’t be avoided. Seems much milder in Asia compared to the USA.

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If this is the case, I would say that maintaining English and Cantonese will be bigger problem. Children of that age adapt very quickly, and forget what they used to use at the same time if you don’t do anything.


They’ll pick up the language within a week and be fluent in a month.

My parents dropped me off at a Gardena, Cali preschool when I was 4. Didn’t know a lick of English, but by the end of the month, I was already getting called Little Mama for yelling at other kids who didn’t put their shoes in the appropriate cubby holes.


At that age (4 and 6) or around kindergarten and 1st/2nd grade, the bullying should be completely non-existent in public school. Kids are too young to know anything. Plus, your children will look like any other Taiwanese.
My children’s mother is Taiwanese and they look nearly full Westerner and have never experienced anything negative at that age.

I would certainly get them involved in after-school sports. Yes, at that age (1st grade, 2nd grade), they’ll be activities they can sign up for (because classes end around noon). Examples include table-tennis, simple technology experiments, etc. Fee is extremely low. They’ll make local classmate friends that way, too.

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Social dominance and bullying certainly exists at that age. Depends is the school staff are literate enough to intervene. Like dogs humans display dominance fairly early on. Thankfully, unlike dogs, not via leg humping. Seems pretty normal in any large groups of nearly any age if always congregating together. My daughter, looking white, gets it a lot since 5 years old when.she started school. Luckily she has confidence and can handle it and it gets put in its place. If obvious racial minorities in shcool here dont have confidence, it is worse, but if they can nip that petty shit in the but on the fly, racial anyrhig does not normally turn into any kind of problem. Luckily, if the op is cantonese, that will be far less of an issue based of physical appearances.

Thanks for all the suggestions. Yes, we’re planning to have them join in after-school activities, particularly since schools have been closed for nearly a year in HK.

My kids look Eurasian: dark hair, with a soft Asian eye fold. They don’t really stand out now since there’s lots of mixed children in our school. Maybe in Taipei they’d stand out a bit more.
Also, they have very outgoing, cheerful personalities. Not shy at all.

@wakethenight: great to hear you learned so quick. Hope my kids will do the same.
@Takasan: they’ll probably get lots of English from Me and Mom at home. Not sure how long Canto will endure, especially once I start learning Mandarin. I’m sure it’ll remain the language of scolding around the house! :laughing:

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I remember there were a couple of kids in elementary school where my daughters went who are either white or mixed race, and they did stand out by looks in my eyes. But I didn’t really hear anything about bullying (I hope I am right.)

In my case it is Japanese. There is a weekend-only Japanese school and I sent them there until like Junior high. I believe there is a Cantonese commnunity of good size in Taiwan, and you can get some useful info and even support from them. I also sent them back every summer to my parents house in Japan. During their stay, they went to local elementary school there. This was VERY effective, not only to learn language, but also to know what the life is like there.

Another thing; Youtube. This is a powerful tool. I didn’t really teach them how to use it or how to learn by it, but they watch Youtube to learn, even I don’t know when and how.

Indeed, Youtube is a powerful tool, but it’s like a knife. It can cause some damage if not used correctly, especially if kids are let on their on to find content.

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