On raising bilingual kids: 6yo and 2yo
Totally back-dating this post. I had it in Drafts for so long and then lost access to this website for six months from July 2022 until February 2023. Posted in February 2023.
Baby is definitely starting to make an appearance in these posts so I guess I will need to rename these blog posts! The dates below are still relative to the Kiddo’s birthday, three month intervals.
27 Apr Baby has been picking up on possessiveness 寶寶底褲 (“Bobo’s underwear”) but I think she made her first sentence yesterday which was 檬檬整爛 / Mung1Mung1 zing2 laan6 / “Moong Moong broke it”
29 Apr Baby-isms: 瞓低奶奶 / fan3 dai1 naai5naai5 / “lie down milk” is breastmilk. And 邊度電話 / bin1 dou6 din6 waa6 / “where phone”- she’s at the smartphone earlier than older brother by far
5 May Parenting fail during Zoom Mandarin class: he wasn’t copying the Pinyin fast enough and didn’t have enough room and had a meltdown and I yelled at him and got muted by the teacher. But he’s doing okay in class, learning, privately enjoying what he’s learning. He says he wants to know 大牛(小羊) rhyme forever – good!
NPY yells at Kiddo in English and Kiddo still responds in Chinese.
Baby-ism: Her “herp” morphed to “helrp” and she follows it with 幫你 / bong1 nei5 / “help you” because I’ll ask her, “要唔要我幫你?” so she doesn’t understand the pronouns yet!
It’s so freaking cute when Baby apes us something that’s pretty vernacular – “係唔係?”
7 May Kiddo was spelling out the word “CHINA” from somewhere and said, “C- H- 豎 N- A”, as in he was integrating his Mandarin strokes (豎, the vertical one) with his ABCs because it’s not all separate worlds for him yet.
When Kiddo applies essential oil, he names the stroke he’s making on his forearm: 豎豎豎豎横 on one side and 横横横横豎 on the other or some variation!
12 May Kiddo hasn’t heard me count in English before – let’s keep perpetuating that.
17 May Chatting with a friend and I know I’m coming off as kind of superior sounding but Kiddo doesn’t know the word bored in Chinese (悶) and maybe not even English. It’s part of my philosophy – “if you say you’re bored, then you’re boring”.
Baby can sing 一閃一閃 (Chinese “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”) from the Bao Bao Learns Chinese song book we have. But so much else seems to be English blabbering. I am directly telling Kiddo to translate (翻譯 / faan1 jik6) instead of counting on him to just follow my (re-casting) lead.
Kiddo is more challenge these days as he explores boundaries and NPY is responding in a lot of English with ease and – it seems to me – petulence that it makes me want to be very low-class and scream but I don’t (every time) and instead 火氣 / fo2 hei3 / “fire air” (simmer, fume).
The only plus of Baby being at home all week is the Chinese immersion, that’s all in my books.
19 May After putting on one sock, Baby knew to say “另外襪 / ling6 ngoi6 mat 6 / “other sock” – she sure likes to dress independently, and dress up in accessories.
24 May I taught Kiddo that there are gradations in colour, like 棗紅 (maroon). I do know more colours in English than Chinese. I do not know teal. Looking it up, apparently it’s 深青色 (“deep young colour”) or 深綠藍色 (“deep green blue colour”). So I’ve taught him to be able to describe gradations of colour in a way that interests him, describing the colours: 啡啡紅紅 “brown-brown red-red”. I can still teach him things in Chinese first like 踏停 (daap6 ting4 = sudden brake) that I hope he remembers long into when he’s switched over to English.
25 May NPY fairly deliberately taught Kiddo the word “rebound” for hockey play and I quickly looked it up and said 反彈 (faan2 daan6) and shouted it and he’s of course adamant and correct that Kiddo should learn English but he’s got PLENTY OF TIME for that, and I want the introduction to be in Chinese because IT HELPS. To which petulent NPY told me to, “Get lost.” Real maturity there and I can’t wait until Kiddo says that back to NPY in the appropriate situation.
2 June – her first phrase might be yi shang yi shang lang zing zing ❤️
She also says “jon-nee” when she likes something and it just makes me so happy when she likes a particular food and will eat more. She also said “jon-nee nay” and hugged me. ❤️
5 June I’ve started listening to Cantonese radio (Fairchild AM radio in Vancouver) when I pick him up afterschool, so he hears it. Even if he stops speaking it, he knows that that I can understand it and that’s a cool thing reason to maintain and I hope that radio station sticks around forever.
8 June It’s kind of wild how the kids are learning Pinyin and can technically read everything Pinyin (without comprehension) and so if they don’t know it right now, it’s okay! They are 5-going-on-6. I’m setting standards too high. On top of that, they are learning to read in school. I try to slip in for Kiddo that there are few (none) exceptions to pronunciation in Pinyin but correspondingly, he won’t often know what the word means after he’s read Pinyin because his vocabulary in Mandarin is limited.
15 June I am very upset by NPY reading top Beyblades names and can’t translate those fast enough. (Sometimes there just isn’t a translation.)
17 June Baby can count to 10 in Canto! It’s like self-soothing or a song for her I guess, because it’s something she can repeat to herself.
18 June Kiddo: 沙沙黃黃橙橙金色 / saa1 saa1 wong4 wong4 caang2 caang2 gam1 sik1 / “sand yellow-y orange-ish gold colour” – that was him describing copper colour!
22 June We don’t have time for story time any longer. It’s his “punishment” for going to bed so late, no story. He pulled out some books, gleeful he can read the title and NPY starts reading to him The Lorax, visibly (audibly) pleased to get to read in English but I know he doesn’t appreciate Dr Seuss and he couldn’t (didn’t) translate it for Evan. They didn’t get far.
23 June “Is that what you want!?” when NPY is frustrated at Kiddo, trying to figure out what he wants. And I want to smash a window in anger.
27 June One thing I won’t give up is accompanying Kiddo to sleep – we never sleep trained him and I think that chatting with him at night is our connection point. Otherwise goodness knows I’m so preoccupied with things he’d be lost to me already. And that it’s helping him keep the language.
13 July I asked Kiddo if he counts in Chinese and he said yes. Leading question? Why would he lie? He could have provided the lazy answer. I told him I do, too, well, aloud when he is around, I do.
15 July When Baby sees a photo of herself with her cousins and grandparents who call her Meimei, she points to the photo and says it’s Meimei and it takes a short while for her to agree that it’s her.
18 July That being said, he was counting something and told me he had counted to (whisper) “fifty-nine” so I wonder if he has switched but he’s not conscious of it.
24 July She said “wet” and “mong mong yuuuuunch” and she refused – it’s fun for her – to be recasted to 濕 / sap1 and 晏晝餐盒 / aan3 zau3 caan1 hap6 I dearly hope she’s internalizing my recasting and will follow suit!