09.29.15 One language one parent

Ok. I bit the bullet. It’s ride or die time.

We’re doing full language immersion with Ollie.

This means we each speak a non-English language to him. CS speaks Mandarin and I speak Cantonese and English is reserved for what he learns in school or for when we don’t know how to say it Chinese (hah).

But before I do, let me just defend my reluctance to begin til now.

  1. It is just straight up HARD talking to someone in a not-your-primary-language language.
  2. You’re talking to a kid who doesn’t know the language, which is akin to talking to yourself. Maybe some people (ahem CS) like to talk even if it’s to themselves, but for me, it’s no fun. CS at least can speak to his mom in Mandarin. It’s not as (seemingly) futile because there’s a give and take in the conversation. For me, I speak and it goes into this netherworld and disappears without a response. I mean, it’s great when my mom’s here so I can speak to her and Ollie hears the conversation (even if he doesn’t understand it yet), but that’s still just one day a week.
  3. When I speak Chinese, it’s not like I can turn on and off the Chinese and pluck the words out and drop it into my conversation. No. My ass has to translate it in my head from English to Chinese, which means sometimes there’s a delay. And frankly, it sucks having dead air as I mull it through in my head, going, how the hell do I say that again?
  4. #3 isn’t so bad when it’s a word or phrase I actually do know, because it eventually comes. But there are some words like “excavator” and “backhoe loader” that I can guarantee you was not part of my vocabulary, Chinese or otherwise, before having kids. This means I’ve gotta figure it out and expand my mental Chinese dictionary.

What sucks is, I’m actually a fluent speaker. So if I find it this difficult, I can only imagine how hard it is to try to raise bilingual kids when your grasp of the language isn’t great.

Anyway, these points aside, I’ve pussyfooted on this for far too long already, and seeing how much Ollie is absorbing these days, it seems wrong to hold off any longer.

And also, it seems like the perfect time to start now, because he’s picking up so many new words and so good at mimicry, that I’m hoping full immersion means it’ll be a relatively painless process (for Ollie, can’t say the same for me). Besides, maybe CS will finally learn Cantonese too since I’m already simplifying and breaking it down for Ollie.

I won’t like, this is gonna hurt. Let’s see how long I last.

My little bilingual monster 🙂


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