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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Language, a Cultural Link, and a Legacy

     My husband's uncle came over this week.  He was all excited as he handed me a magazine in Chinese with two teenage girls on the cover.  "Look at these two girls,"  he said, smiling, "They published an article in Chinese.  They learned Chinese with only classes on Sundays.  And their mom made them write one letter a week in Chinese to practice."  He knew that this would mean a lot to me since classes at Language Stars* and an hour a week at the non-profit school is all my kids get, too.  He was encouraging me that my dream of the kids one day speaking Chinese (just to speak it would be enough for me) could actually come true.  Thanks for the vote of confidence, Uncle Victor.

     Most people give me a funny look when I tell them that the kids are in Mandarin classes.  Sometimes they say things like, "Well, does your husband speak it?"  When I say no and proceed to tell them that the rest of the family speaks Cantonese, not Mandarin, their brow furrows even more with that quizzical, semi-skeptical look which says (without actually saying it) "Then why in the world do you bother?!"  I bother because it's very important to me that my children have strong ties to their heritage.  I believe that, in order to know where you're going in life, you first have to explore where you came from.  What better way to do that than through acquiring another language?

     And, I do it because one day it just hit me:  Do I really want to get 20 years down the road and wish that I had tried?  So, part of my explanation now includes some phrase about "learning as much as we can" and being happy with that.   I finally realized that the gift of language is a legacy that I want to leave  my children.  Among other things, I want these classes (as well as years of driving them back and forth and getting up early every Saturday for FOREVER to go to Language Stars) to be something they can look back on and say, "Mom did that for me."  I think that the ability to be bilingual will provide them with more choices in life, creating more possibilities of where they might work, the kind of work they will choose, and on and on.  Who doesn't want to give their child a sense of accomplishment, pride in a job well done, and a greater chance of success?   I think second language learning does all three things.

My son writing the word "fruit."  He's young yet, but look how hard he tries!  
     Will one or more of my kids ever publish an article in Chinese?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But, more importantly, I want them to know more about their cultural heritage as a result of taking Mandarin, more about themselves, and to know that they (and mom) worked their hardest.  

As always,
Thanks for reading!

*We receive 50% off our tuition for blogging about our wonderful Language Stars experiences!  



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1 comment:

  1. You have been tagged! Come over to check out the fun! :)