Tuesday, 3 December 2013

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J Summary (4Y8M28D) - The Language Merry-Go-Round

J is using more and more Danish, when he is speaking to me in Mandarin, and it is all my fault. Since Daddy could not understand Mandarin, I am using more English with J during weekends and during dinner time when Daddy is around.

I commented and ask if he can still speak Mandarin. J replied, "Yes, Mommy, I can speak Mandarin." And then he added, "Mommy, I love you."

It seems that J knows that it means a lot to me that he can speak Mandarin, and that because he loves me, he will learn and speak Mandarin.

It brings me comfort that J is willing to speak Mandarin, and does not resist it like many other mixed kids, but I am still a little sad that his Mandarin is deteriorating, although his English is improving by the day. It seems that his languages are each taking a merry-go-round turn!

I will perhaps revert back to speaking more Mandarin with him, even while Daddy is around.

The good thing is that Daddy does not mind it at all that we speak Mandarin in his presence.

In a way, I am very glad that I am working part-time now, as I could feel that the more time I spend with him, the more chances of conversations I have with him in Mandarin, which helps him to improve in the language.

Then I began to worry about his Danish, especially after listening to a recent radio program of how children of families from non-native Dane background are having a lot of struggles because these children have a small Danish language and it is hampering their lives in all areas as language is the means to learn all other subjects.

We just had a year-end assessment at his kindergarten. Compared to many other bilingual children in Denmark, his Danish is on par with the Danish kids and at times even surpassing his peers with his understanding of the words and the nuisances. I breathed a sign of relief. For example, his teachers said that he could understand the humor in some of the stories books read aloud, which many kids did not catch. This is all thanks to Daddy's daily bed-time story routine in Danish.

I haven't still quite find the right balance between the 3 languages, but will continue to work at it.

What I have learned for the past 4.5 years is that it takes REAL hard work, sweat, perseverance and determination to pursue trilingualism. If it is not handled well, it may end up 3-halves-lingualism!

Is it worth to pay the price?

Can I turn my back on my cultural heritage and pursue everything only in Danish?

I wish I could, but I couldn't bring myself to do that, and perhaps I have not learned and internalized the concept, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."

I will continue to bite my teeth, as these 3 languages mean so much to me personally, and I am not willing to let go of any.

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