I used to have two native languages (Chinese+English) but now I only know English. However, all my family is bilingual in Chinese and English so I’m responding for them.
They never get them confused, they are completely bilingual and perfect at both.
No, English dominates because they went to school in English although at home they only spoke Chinese. Their English knowledge dominates because they were educated in English and probably know more technical terms than in Chinese.
4.They just use both every day, so that helps them keep them fresh.
It really bugs me when people don’t teach their mother tongues to their children because they fear that they will not “learn English well.” I didn’t know English until 5 and within about six months, I think I was pretty much at the same level with my classmates. Now, obviously, I’m fully-native in English since I started so young.
“It really bugs me when people don’t teach their mother tongues to their children because they fear that they will not “learn English well.” I didn’t know English until 5 and within about six months, I think I was pretty much at the same level with my classmates. Now, obviously, I’m fully-native in English since I started so young.”
You’re telling me. My mom didn’t teach me hers out of laziness, I think.
What I’m curious to know is this: Did you forget all your Chinese?
Yes. I was 5 when my teacher (mom) passed away and nobody else talked to me in Chinese after that.
I know some basic greetings and can count to 10; you could reach the same level as me if you had 5 hours of practice.
Other relatives spoke Chinese to their kids but a lot of my cousins are receptive bilinguals. They understand everything but don’t speak much. To me, this is almost as bad as not knowing a language because they won’t be able to pass on the language to their kids. So effectively, the language dies out.
Was their prejudice against French speakers in your town when you were a kid? Cajun speakers were discriminated against, although you aren’t from that area, right? Your decision to know French makes a LOT of sense to me now that I know that it is your family language! That’s a pretty darn important reason to learn a language–to get in touch with your family roots.
Another issue is that for a kid to speak a language well, there has to be a need. I.E, the kid has to see that the language is important; they have to have an environment with a lot of speakers and not just their parents, in my opinion. If none of their friends speak it, then I could see how the child would stop speaking it at home and become a receptive bilingual. But if they have friends that speak it or relatives close by they might say to themselves, “Hey, language X is important! Everybody is speaking it.”
Haha, I was born something like 15 years before the Bill O’Reilly “Freedom Fries” incident, so I don’t think there was any prejudice against the French where I was. My mom speaks French natively, but her parents spoke Yiddish. That would be my real heritage language, I guess. I have no desire to learn Yiddish.
I find that really interesting about losing your chinese. When you hear Chinese, do the sounds at least sound familar to you? Maybe you would learn the language faster than you would expect.
I understand basic words that are used often like rice, water, sleep and also verbs like wash, eat, etc. But our family language is a dialect of Cantonese; there are only 1 million native speakers in China of our dialect. So even if I wanted to (which I don’t) learn it again, I wouldn’t be able to practice it. It used to be the number one language in US chinatowns, but Cantonese is more common now, I think. And Mandarin is making some inroads, though it is more rare in the US.
So if I wanted to learn Chinese, since I AM Chinese, I would learn Mandarin. But it would be like learning a foreign language since it is not even our family language! Thus, I won’t learn Chinese.
Well, I don’t have a passport but I am 100% biologically Chinese.
And I play piano and used to play violin…read “Tiger Mom” from the New York Times. All the stereotypes are actually true. (This is how my family and all my relatives raise their children)
I won’t be so cruel to my future children but I will probably nudge them into studying…medicine, law, engineering, PhD in sciences, pharmacy school, dentistry, Optometry…pretty much doctorates or at the very least a masters degree in something that is stable. We have it better than Indians and Pakistani’s…all of my Indian/Pakistani friends are HEAVILY pressured to do medicine.
"I won’t be so cruel to my future children but I will probably nudge them into studying…medicine, law, engineering, PhD in sciences, pharmacy school, dentistry, Optometry…pretty much doctorates or at the very least a masters degree in something that is stable. We have it better than Indians and Pakistani’s…all of my Indian/Pakistani friends are HEAVILY pressured to do medicine. "
The Jewish-American thing is to be a doctor, lawyer, or an accountant. I went to a music conservatory. Tant pis.
Still get nudges from family saying that its time to take the LSAT pretty much weekly =p I have a cousin at Science Po and so I’m pretty sure I’ve become a bit of a black sheep.
I met someone who had Japanese parents, but grew up in Taiwan going to an English-language school. She spoke Japanese, Chinese, and English, but didn’t feel like she was totally native in any of the 3 languages.
I’ve known quite a few people whose first language was French, but in childhood English took over and became their main language. Generally they never really seem to get confused because they use their French only occasionally, and never seem too interested in maintaining it. However when necessary all of them are capable of holding a French conversation with natives, and they’re able to watch and understand French movies for the most part.
But since they began to speak mostly English in elementary school, reading and writing in French is more difficult for them. I have a friend I used to work with whose first language went from English to French at a young age, and she helped me in my early days of learning the language. Although she can speak French more naturally than I can to this day, her vocabulary and grammar knowledge is much more limited, and after a few months of learning French my writing-related questions became a bit too complex for her to answer, and she would refer me to her uncle. He had learned French as a third or fourth language in school, and was more confident in his reading and writing abilities. Ah, good times!