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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How does a banana encourage their child to learn Chinese?

A "banana" is a rather degoratory term used to describe a Chinese who doesn't know Chinese. Meaning, the person is yellow on the outside (yellow skin for Chinese) but white inside (speaks only English for example).

Well, wether it is degoratory or not depends on the way you look at it. I don't think its shameful for a Chinese not to know Chinese. It was necessary then and that was the way we had been schooled and brought up.

Our parents had sent us to "English" school to learn English so that we have a better future. Those were the days. And it has helped us to be good in English. We had many job opportunities etc. But things are changing now with the new generation Chinese parents who know English. They are now sending their kids to Chinese school to learn Chinese since they are now good in English and there is no worry about that anymore. We have come a full circle.

So how do I encourage my child to learn to love Chinese when I don't know any Chinese myself? I learn it with her of course. That is the best support of all.

I remember the first time my girl brought home her "ting seah" (Chinese Spelling) work from kindy. I didn't know what that was all about. So I just asked her to write down the words on the paper like any other homework. When it was time for "ting seah", she got 4-5 out of 14 words correct.

Only then did I realise that "ting seah" meant Chinese Spelling or litterally translated means "listen, write". So I sat down and learned those words together with my girl. Every Friday, she would get a "ting seah" assignment and on Tuesday she would be asked to write those words in class when the teacher recites it.

I would practise those words together with my girl and have a "ting seah" competition with her. After we have finished studying and memorising those words together, we would read the sentence out to each other for the other to write and mark each other's work. She loves this. My girl would be delighted whenever she "wins" me in our weekly competition or if I can't remember to write certain words which she knew better than me and she'd go "Come mummy, I show you how."

Its amazing. With our weekly competitions, now she usually gets about 12-13 out of 14 words correct during her actual "ting seah" in class. Then I would remind her how good it is to know her work, so that she'd have less homework because they are required to rewrite every word that they got wrong. Now she usually just has to correct one or two words instead of rewriting almost entire sentences which takes up time.

So, it is possible for a mother who doesn't know Chinese to encourage and teach her child Chinese. Now, that I'm sending her to Chinese School, I need to support her even more. I hope that someone can recommend me some good resource for me to learn and teach at the same time. Thanks.

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