Saturday, December 15, 2012

The language choices

"We wish you a mauli Crisma, we wish you a mauli Crisma, we wish you a mauli Crisma, and a Happy to you."

This is how Aelig sings the song.
We are in the Christmas mood so we have been exposing Aelig to Christmas carols. It makes us laugh to hear her singing "mauli Crisma", and I shared this with my coworker.
He looked at me, and said: "When are you going to teach your kid something French?"
I was a bit surprised. I told him that hubby is the one responsible to teach Aelig French. Well, hubby uploaded many Christmas carols in English for us as he likes the joyful and festive ambiances in these songs.  As for me, I didn't teach Aelig any Christmas song in Mandarin because I don't know them. I was not exposed to them when I was a kid.

Anyway, I don't think we need to justify anything to anyone. This is our decision and we just want the best for our kid. However, I do want to share why we chose these languages.

Even before Aelig was born, we have decided to separate the job: hubby would teach her French and I would teach her mandarin. It was a total no brainer for French, since she is French. I chose Mandarin because it is my mother tongue. There were questions raised about this choice, I will share about this in another post.

The hard part was English. This was the language we spoke when we met, and we chose to continue to use it among us so that we won't lose it. We decided to let Aelig learns it herself when she goes to primary school, but something came up which made me had doubt about our choice.

We were in Krabi, Thailand, a place which do not understand either French or Mandarin. There was a safari room where you can drop your kid for several hours while running your errands. Aelig went to play there sometimes. At one point, she was with several kids, some from Singapore who spoke in English. They were all playing one two three jump to an area full of balls. A little girl commanded one two three, everyone jumped except Aelig. She looked lost because she didn't understand the command. I decided that it may be time to teach her some basic English. So, I added English songs, DVD and Youtube clips to her entertainment times.

And the result, now she knows how to count in three languages:
Mandarin: from 1 to 20, going towards 30
French: from 1 to 10, going towards 15
English: from 1 to 10

She is probably slower than other kids her age but I think she will get there eventually. Let's see.


  1. Dear Bee Ean,
    Keep going with your Mandarin. I spoke Mandarin and English with my son when he was born til age of 3, But by time we had to send him to nursery(in Marrakesh) He could not either speak English, French or Mandarin. Guess he was late with his language skill.. so i took a decision to cut out Mandarin and keep English so that he could communicate with others.

    I regrade so much to have not continue with both languages..
    Aelig is not even 3 and can count in so many there is no problem at all for her to master all three.


  2. You're doing great in the lingo department! Besides her dad, Aelig will have plenty of French opportunities when she goes to kindy, school, friends, etc, unless you send her to an English speaking school. I wish I have your resilience in teaching my daughter Mandarin, but as I didn't go to a chinese school nor speak it with my family when growing up, I felt like fish out of water speaking it. She still does know a few words, but not nearly enough. L will write to Aelig in English, so be prepared! :) Jin Lian

  3. when it comes to language, i'm saying the more the better. i have friends who had to make choices for their children, and they inevitably regretted not teaching the kids all that the adults know.

    only one friend kept going with her resolution to teach them all (and then some that she doesn't even know much!) and sure enough, it was tough going at first, and her kids seem to develop speech very late, but once her kids got started, they were flying with progress in all the main languages taught at home!

    even growing up in malaysia, we use a multitude of dialects at home, and we have never consciously chose one over the other and i've observed my young cousins picking up the dialects without problem.

    keep up the good work!