In this post, I am going to write about bilingualism.
Both my wife and I grew up in bilingual (Chinese and English) environments and are able to speak and write fluently in both languages.
We want Asher to inherit this as there are many advantages in the workplace, during social interactions and for cultural learning.
Asher with Rachel and I during a family trip to Taiwan
In our interaction with young children in Singapore these days, we find that many communicate solely in English. They are able to do reasonably well in Chinese tests and examinations, but still hate or are indifferent towards the language and barely uses it in their daily lives.
Then, there are those who profess they “suck at Chinese”. It is logical to presume these children would be good at English since one should be able to master at least one language, but no, their English is equally atrocious!
From the day Asher was born, Rachel and I made the decision to teach him Chinese first. This will be harder to pick up later in life as there will be lesser opportunity to use the language, given that most children speak primarily in English these days.
Good Chinese starts from home.
He was taught his Chinese name, Yu Yi first before Asher.
When he reaches around 14 months and can start making simple speech, we realise the limitation of conversing only in Chinese to him – he is unable to communicate with other kids at the playground, especially those who are not Chinese.
This is where Rachel made the switch to converse to him in English. My wife’s language proficiency is much better than mine and it was easier for her to transit.
Now, Asher is slowly picking up some English words to converse with others. I still speak to him solely in Chinese. His grandparents too. Rachel is the only one exposing him to the English language at home. This works out to a 70-30 ratio.
It seems to be working well.
If you also believe in bilingualism, do drop me a note if you have any feedback or suggestions on raising a bilingual child.
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