Thursday, June 10, 2010

Train My Boy To Speak Bilingual

During our school days, we were trained to learn in multi-languages. I'm so well aware of the hardship I had in accomplishing my tertiary studies at foreign university where English is the only medium. So for me whose mother tongue is Mandarin always have to study harder.

Hence, I have compromised with my hubby as to speak English with our newborn. Yet we don't give up mother tongue - Mandarin. Our parents and people surrounding our baby are speaking of it. We glad that we could expose our baby to a bilingual environment as early as. Now he's picking up both languages quite well.

1st Point: Never mix any two & above languages/dialects in your conversation with your baby.
For example: Baby, 你要watch TV吗?(Translate: do you want to watch TV?)
Our method: My hubby and I analyse the main speakers surrounding our baby (include his family, my family and the babysitter). We understand that our baby will be exposed to "Mandarin" the most. As such, we both decide to converse in English (though it's not our 1st language) to him whilst others speak other languages with him.

2nd Point: Be consistent. Stick to one language or one dialect from the 1st day you speak with your baby.
For example: You speak only in English with your baby in private. When involving others (your mom/babysitter/friends), you may use other language/dialect spoken with them to your baby. Avoid this situation as much as possible as not to confuse your baby's recognition of language.
Our method: Similar to the 1st point. We remain using English as the medium of conversation with our boy since he's born. No matter where and when. Not shy to speak up even though we are not so fluent in English.

3rd Point: Speak and explain in one language/dialect. No need to translate what you speak of (include reading).
For example: Baby, this is an apple. 这是一颗苹果。
Our method: We speak and read to him in English. We explain the meaning/object in English too. Either we use body action to describe the words like running, crying.. or we show him the picture/real object like apple, tummy, water. We notice that young child is able to match the same words/phrases in different languages. Like he will tell my mum "Ja-Ja, 我要踏脚车" then turn to me and say "Mummy, I want to ride bicycle".

4th Point:
Correct/guide your baby to use the same language which you speak with him/her.
Sometimes, we have to correct our boy when he mixes the languages in his conversation. For example, he says "Mummy, 我要go to park". (I want to go to park)
Our method: We'd ask him to repeat his sentence by hinting the first word "I.." then he'll respond "I want to go to park". With more and more practices, we believe that our boy can pick up both languages smoothly.

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