Growing up, I spoke Mandarin with my parents and siblings.
My father spoke Cantonese with his relatives; my mother spoke Teochew with hers; and they spoke Hokkien to each other.
I was immersed in a big hotpot of dialects.
Then in school and at work, English took over as the main language.
In 2019, it was reported in TODAY that 71% of Chinese households in Singapore speak English as their main language at home, a whopping increase from 42% two decades ago.
In today’s world where English is the predominant language in many homes, schools and online, how do we raise a bilingual child?
Where do we even start?
The first step is this: Know your “why”.
Why do you want your child to learn (and possibly master) Chinese?
Why do you want your child to enjoy learning and using Chinese?
Only after knowing your “why”, then can you maintain consistency in nurturing your child’s Chinese skills.
How about me?
It was a huge leap of faith to send my children to a Chinese school (SJKC) where they learn Math, Science, History and other supplementary subjects in Chinese.
It was more than learning Chinese.
It was learning EVERYTHING in Chinese!
As a Singaporean mummy in Malaysia, I was hesitant at first.
Since we homeschooled through kindergarten (way before the Covid-19 pandemic), I had to prepare the children well.
Before sending them to the deep end of an immersive Chinese school.
I needed them to thrive, not drown.
I needed a compelling “why”.
My “why” is that I already love the Chinese language, its rich history and culture and want my children to be able to connect to this identity.
The Daddy and I are fully experiencing the benefits of being effectively bilingual.
We’re able to work with Chinese-speaking associates in Malaysia and China…
And shop at China websites…
And use an AI speaker that speaks only Mandarin!
Having a common language makes all the difference.
So here’s my “why”: I want to gift my children the ability to communicate effectively in Chinese, whenever they need to use it in life.
In the next few minutes or days, sit over this and find your “why”.
Download the journal below to note your thoughts. Click the orange button:
Then we’ll chat again in a few days.
If you’d like to share your responses with me, just click Reply. I’m only an email away.
~ Carol @ Owlissimo.com
Recent research reports that bilingual children can often focus better, have stronger analytical skills and are better at switching between tasks.
In short, bilingualism may boost the brains!