Community Spotlight

“This is Us” Series

The “Community Spotlight” is a series of posts for “This is Us” featuring families in our community and their journey to raise multilingual children. 

We are so inspired by all the family stories you’ve shared with us.  We want to share your story with others who are also raising multilingual kids as well.  Through sharing tips and experiences, we hope families will feel that it is possible to add Chinese as part of their home languages. 

Our Parent Spotlight this month will feature Vivian!

We chatted with Vivian, who has two boys, ages 6 and 10. She’s been in Canada since elementary school. Let’s learn how she manages to have her boys speak fluently in Cantonese at home. We’ve kept this month short and sweet. Happy Reading!

         Meet Vivian!        

Hi Vivian! Can you tell us a bit about you and your family?

My name is Vivian. I was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Canada with my family more than 30 years ago. I now have two boys ages 6 and 10. We try to speak only Cantonese at home. My husband and I, along with the kids' grandparents, speak fluent Cantonese.

When did you decide to speak Cantonese with your kids?

We tried to start teaching Cantonese the moment our kids were born because we've always wanted our kids to be fluent in Cantonese when they grow up. We've been teaching spoken Cantonese since the beginning and started teaching them to read a couple of years ago. It has become more challenging as they start primarily speaking English in school and amongst their friends.

What are your main goals for teaching Cantonese?

We'd like them to be fluent in speaking and listening, somewhat fluent in reading and writing. Our focus is mostly on food and culture. As they grow older we'd like them to learn some of the history as well.

How does Cantonese work at home?

We try to speak only Cantonese at home and with grandparents. We've been using Sage to teach them to read. Grandparents have also been teaching them some history and culture.

What is your biggest obstacle?

The biggest obstacle is getting them interested in learning Cantonese when almost everything that surrounds them is English. They don't seem to understand the reason for learning Cantonese.

Do you have any rewarding moments to share?

It’s always a positive surprise when they suddenly describe something in Canto with vocabulary or phrases that I didn't know they knew or if they recognize some Cantonese words when we go out.

Do you have any advice for parents who are undecided about starting Chinese at home?

If parents decide to teach Cantonese, try to be as consistent as possible and keep trying.

If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for to make this multilingual journey easier?

It helps to have kids around the same age who speak Chinese and get together for activities so that they can communicate and socialize in Chinese.

What are your favourite books to read together with your child?

My kids enjoy Cantonese comic style books the most.

 

Thank you, Vivian, for sharing your experiences with us in raising multilingual kids!  Even though it sounds pretty simple, we know you've put in a lot of work over the last 10 years to keep up Cantonese!

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