Tuesday, March 25, 2014
The more I write about this topic and answer readers' question, the more I realize how important and critical it is to learn Chinese well in the first decade of the child's life, if the parents want to devote serious attention to this. I estimate that my 10 year old daughter can probably get a 3-4 in Chinese AP test now and should reach a solid 4 in another year or so. My understanding is that a 5 in Chinese AP is equivalent to two years of college level Chinese in the US. To me, the dedication we devote to their Chinese is equivalent to the dedication one friend devote to their 11 year old daughter who is now level 9 in gymnastic or tiger mother Amy Chua having her daughter play 3 hours of piano a day, including during vacation (at least that's what I remembered reading). At the end of the day (and there are only 24 hours a days no matter what), parents have to ask themselves, "what does my child enjoy doing and what would I prefer my child be able to do at age 25 and beyond?" For my family, the answer is clear. Since my daughters do not have very strong affinity for sport or music (they do enjoy their guitar and tennis class), we chose to devote more of our attention to their Chinese for the first decade of their life.
Something interesting happened that I did not expect. It is COOL these days to know Chinese. I remember the craze for Japanese language course (6-8 credits a semester?) in college during the 1990s. My older daughter was reading Twilight in Chinese on her Kindle at school and fellow students and a teacher were amazed and asking her things left and right. I think it is great that she can read these American novels in Chinese, such that she is culturally "connected" to her American peers while linguistically "connected" to Taiwan/China at the same time.
OMG! We did such a great job creating a Chinese immersion environment for our daughters that Charlotte, my soon to be middle schooler daughter, is not schooled in American pop culture and has a bit of tough time making friends at her new school. And it is at this age when friends become important. In my defense, I did in the past try to get her to watch American pre-teen sitcom and learn about/watch team sport such as football, but she wasn't interested. Since knowing is half of the battle, now that she knows, she is enjoying watching "Good luck, Charlie" reruns on Netflix. We are going to get her up to speed in no time! Things should get better the closer it gets to high school, when students segregate themselves into different crowd based on interest or academics.
Charlotte is done reading the first book of the "Twilight" series in Chinese. It took her almost three weeks, with school works and things. It also took her some time to get used to reading the translated English names. The next book she plans to read is the Chinese edition of "My Sister's Keeper". The subject maybe a bit tough for her age. We'll see how it goes.
Links on a Chinese summer program in Taiwan
Charlotte is now working on the third book of the "Twilight" series. She wants to read the Chinese edition of "My Sister's Keeper" afterwards. I have the Chinese edition of "Mocking Jay", the third book of Hunger Game, ready for her. I am going to try to get a copy of the Chinese edition of "Divergent" for her also.