Tag Archive: Bilingualism

Language progress @2 year-old

Little man is getting more and more eloquent in his daily Mandarin conversations. He is able to express himself using complex sentence structures, conjunctions and simple idioms,成语.

I wanted to put these to record so that I will constantly be reminded that our efforts to speak properly to him will never go to waste.

There was once he threw his toys all over the living room. I came out and exclaimed,“发生什么事了?” (What happened?) He then sheepishly told me that,“我把玩具弄得乱七八糟。” (I created a mess.)

When he needed me to wipe his sweat, he will come to me and say,“我玩得满头大汗。” (I am very sweaty.)

When he find the sun too glaring for his liking, he will tell me,“妈妈,很晒。我要遮住眼睛。” (I need to cover my eyes.)

That day when we were in a cab on our way to see the doctor, he saw the driver driving really fast and almost hit the lorry in front. He started saying very loudly,“妈妈,uncle 驾车驾得很快,撞到罗厘了。” (Uncle is driving very fast, he almost hit the lorry.) I was so amused and actually secretly hoped that the driver hears him.

Just yesterday, he was telling me,“月亮在哪里呢?月亮被云遮住了,所有看不到月亮。” (Where is the moon? It is covered by the clouds, that is why we cannot see it.). Later that day, he saw me taking off my cardigan. He told me,“妈妈,不要着凉了。” (Mama, don’t catch a cold.)

Some other examples of the sentences he said,“我要先去洗手,才去看电视。” (I will wash my hand before watching the television.), “我先去冲凉,然后睡觉。” (I will bathe before I sleep.), “绿灯可以走,红灯不可以走。” (We can walk when it is green lights, we cannot walk when it is red.)

Recently, little man has also progressed from the “whats” to the “whys”. It is so funny seeing him ask questions in a serious and troubled expression. He seems to be really concern about these questions.

One night, he was still playing in the dark when he is supposed to be sleeping. I became frustrated as I need to wake up very early the next day for work, and I needed to sleep. I stood up and told him, “快闭上眼睛睡觉。” “为什么呢?” “因为已经很迟了。每个人都睡觉了。” “为什么他们要睡觉呢?我不要睡觉。” (Quickly go to sleep. Why? Because it is already very late, everyone is sleeping. Why do they want to sleep? I don’t want to sleep.)

These days, he was having a rather bad running and blocked nose. It became rather difficult for him to sleep. He tried to sleep for a while but gave up in the end, getting up from his bed and asked me,“妈妈,我为什么不可以呼吸?” (Why can’t I breathe?)

When Hubby saw that little man spat out all the vegetables, he commented,“改天不要让他吃菜,吃饭就好了。”. (Next time just let him eat rice without the vegetables.) He frowned, looked at his father and asked,“爸爸,为什么我不可以吃菜呢?” (Why can’t I eat vegetables?)

When Hubby refused to let him go down a floor to see the water fountain, he retorted,“为什么不可以下去看水?” (Why can’t I see the water fountain?), and when Hubby wanted him to take out his new pacifier, he came to me and complained,“妈妈,为什么爸爸说不可以吃这个奶嘴?” (Why Papa do not allow me to have the pacifier?)

Hubby sometimes was exasperated by his questions, he told him, “Because I say so.” I tried to let Hubby understand that we should explain things to him patiently instead of brushing his questions off like that. It is good that he asks things that he do not understand or do not agree with. It gives us the opportunity to teach and shape his young mind the right way.

Meanwhile, his “whats” are becoming more sophisticated as well. Instead of asking me what that thing is, he asked me for the English-Mandarin translation of things.

A huge lizard (I believe it is an iguana.) jumped out in front of us as we were on our way home. Little man was intrigued by the reptile and asked me what it is. I told him the Chinese term for it. After pondering for a while, little man turned to me and asked again,“妈妈,蜥蜴是什么?”. It took me a while to realised that he was asking me for the English word for the reptile, and it surprised me to know that he is actually interested to know how to name the reptile in both languages.

Speaking of English, I would say little man has improved quite a bit. At least, he is now able to speak properly sometimes in the language. Just now, when he switched on the television and saw The Ellen DeGeneres Show coming on, he shouted very loudly to get my attention, “Mama! Do you see Ellen?”

He also started learning to speak the words of his favourite cartoon characters from Ice Age. He would come and tell me, “Rule number one, always listen to Buck!”

That day, we met the father of his schoolmate, Gweneth at the park. The father told us how his daughter was upset because she was scolded by the teacher for hitting little man. His daughter told him that little man is her good friend. The father then asked little man, “Is Gweneth your good friend?” Little man started replying, “@#$%^&@#$%^&*… best friend is Rueben!”

Hm… okay, that can be considered as progress too right? 😉

Like a boss @ 2 year old

Communicating in English

If you have followed me from the beginning, you would know that Hubby and I made a deliberate decision to speak to little man in Mandarin since he was young.

Due to my personal experience in teaching the language, observations and feedback from many parents, I felt that children in Singapore are able to learn English at a faster pace because of our English-speaking environment. Many children only speak Mandarin to their grandparents, which is really not a good way to learn proper Mandarin as the Mandarin of their generation is often greatly tainted by the influence of their dialects. Hence, we make it a point to speak proper Mandarin in proper sentences to little man, trying our very best not to mix it with another language, which is so common in Singapore.

Our efforts paid off as little man become rather good in communicating in Mandarin. In fact, the very first week when he attended school, his Chinese teacher commented that he is very much stronger in the language than most of his peers. On the downside, as much as little man has a wide range of vocabulary in English, he is unable to put them to use when communicating with others.

This morning, I brought little man down to the playground.

He started to make friends with some of the older children who were there. They were very kind to take care of him while playing. I was rather amused, yet slightly troubled when I hear their conversation.

Boy A: Don’t go down here okay? It is very dangerous.
Little Man: @#$%^&#$%^&*@….. dinosaur… roar! (with a very dramatic act)

Boy B: I let you go down this slide, I will go down the other slide.
Little Man: @#$%^&#$%^&*@….. dinosaur… roar! (again with a very dramatic act)

And then my little boy went on to roar at his other playmates before ending it with a happy laugh. The other children did not seem to mind. They actually thought he was cute. I have to agree with them, he was really cute. But it brought along new sets of concern.

Perhaps, I should start conversing in English more often to him.

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