Monday, November 24, 2008

Family

I figure I needed a new tag, called family. The reason is obvious. Anne is expecting and this new journey deserved to be blogged and documented. We don't know the gender of the baby yet. Many would ask if I prefer a boy or a girl and my answer would be that the gender doesn't matter. The baby is still part of the family regardless.

Yesterday we visited a senior uncle and his wife. They are my parents-in-law's good friend and fellow faith-mates. I like Mr and Mrs Wong. They are very wise and often in conversation with them I learned a great deal.

One of the things that's been bothering me is what should I converse with my baby? Should I speak Cantonese (a pasar Cantonese since in Malaysia, we hardly speak in proper Cantonese) or should I converse in English? I am not good at either. My English is not the Queen's English and my Cantonese is pasar. What would my child turn out to be? Would he/she turn out to be another one of those kids who speak broken English or worse, one who speaks a mix of two languages.

Mrs Wong, who has been teaching kids for 15 years, gave a very good suggestions. She said a baby could learn up to 6 languages at a time. She gave an example: A Japanese father and a Korean mother. The father would speak to the baby in Japanese and the mother in Korean. The baby would be able to understand and response to both languages. When he/she sees his father, he would automatically associate these sounds/intonations/language to the father. When he speaks to his mother, he would use this other sound. The baby may not know that he's speaking Jap or Korean but he knows the intonation he should use on a person (father or mother). Mrs Wong said they associate person/face with a language. If they had a maid, the baby would use Indonesia with the kakak. Similarly, a baby would also speak to his grandparents in their dialect.

The secret then lies in the fact that one must be consistent in the choice of language when speaking to the baby. Mrs Wong suggest that if I use English, I must use English throughout. And if Anne use Cantonese, she should be consistent. My mother should use Mandarin and be consistent also. Then, when the baby sees my mother, the baby would automatically use Mandaring to converse. The danger or confusion arises when I use Cantonese AND English when speaking to the baby. That is when the baby will have difficulty grasping and will have a problem expressing himself in the future - when talking to his father, should he use Cantonese or English???? Mrs Wong told me not to worry about the broken English. She said as the baby grow up they would learn that about grammar error and will naturally correct themselves. But if you use a combination of Canto-English, then the baby would not know how to correct himself.

What a relief.. now, I know what to do :)

1 comment:

Bahija said...

Autie Kimmie will speak Hokkien to the baby .... "kin nah, lu hor bor? "

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