Saturday 12 January 2013


J Summary (3Y10M7D) - Started Using Mandarin at Play

It was time for a major spring cleaning. I suggested to J some of the books that I thought he has outgrown, and asked if we could put it away.

We came across this book and he said that he wanted to keep it. It was a pop-up of the different rooms of the home of a mouse called "Malle". He began to start browsing it, showing me that he hasn't outgrown it yet. To my pleasant surprise, he started imaginary play for a good duration in Mandarin, while I was working hard on spring cleaning.

While J switches comfortably between Mandarin and Danish, when he speaks to Mommy and Daddy, often translating the same topic between the two languages and although he speaks to me in Mandarin, when he plays, he would only play in Danish - meaning that he would talk to himself in Danish when he is playing on his own even without Danish children around. So this was the first time it happened in Mandarin.

Despite the dominance of the English language in Singapore, our recent trip back has helped to increase the time he uses Mandarin. But it has also helped J to get more familiarized with English. He asked, "Mommy, why does everyone in the world (he meant Singapore) speak English?"

We got J into a Montessori pre-school in Singapore for a short duration. I was glad to know that I am on par, if not ahead with the Chinese I am teaching to J. Many of the words the 4-5 years old were learning in class, J was familiar with. For this, I have my Chinese friends in Denmark to thank for, who convinced me that children at J's age are ready to start to recognize Chinese words, as I was sceptical about it.

It does seem to indicate that J is progressing towards being bilingual in Mandarin and Danish, but the challenge is how to maintain it and sustain it in the long run. Though I am weary and doubtful at times, this experience in Singapore has shown me that thus far, I am on the right track with the bilingual pursuit, if not trilingual, from afar in Denmark. It seems doable. No major strategy change is needed. I just need to keep pace. My fears turned towards confidence. It gave me the courage to continue on this trilingual journey that we have chosen to take. There are ups and downs, and I can't do it all, but it is ok, and every progress that we can make, I am truly thankful to God for them. It is not with my own strength.

However, J was challenged keeping-up with English in the preschool in Singapore. If I want to continue enrolling him in the preschool during our next vacation in Singapore in a year's time, J would have to make advancement in his English. If it doesn't jeopardize his Chinese, I will be able to put more efforts in his English this year.

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