culture & a second language

When I was growing up, I had a childhood that was filled with love and parents that did the best they could do for me and my brother.  We were in sports {me: competitive gymnastics}, my brother was in Scouts {and my dad was a Scout leader!}, and our mother helped out at various activities at our elementary school.  Now, looking back, the only thing that was missing was the awareness of our culture.

Both of my parents are full Chinese.  Both were born in Canada.  Both spoke a dialect of Cantonese but they both decided not to pass a second language down to their children.  Why?  Maybe they wanted to fit into the Canadian culture and shy away from how they were raised.

Now that I have kids, and a son that is half Chinese, I want him to know both of his cultures.  He already has a strong Jamaican background being around my husband's family.  The kids are trying to teach him how to speak Patois, or Jamaican - his favourite saying is "Cho mon"!  My grandmother speaks Chinese to him although, sadly, I can't understand her.  Which brings me to an item on my {swank}list:  learn Chinese {see right-hand sidebar on my blog!}.

I really, really want Lil J to start learning Chinese {Mandarin} in a year or so but it would be difficult for him to keep it up if no one at home spoke Chinese.  So, I should take Chinese lessons right?!  I'm going to drag my brother along and possibly my husband who said he'd be up to it.  Maybe Miss S too!  We could make it a family affair!

This should be interesting......


  1. That would be really cool if you all learned Mandarin! My parents were both Nigerian and did not teach us the language...they did not want us to end up having accents and not fit into the "world here". Good luck!

  2. It's great that your hubby is willing to learn too! It's great to learn other languages. I studied Spanish for years. I can get by, but I'm not fluent:(

    It's difficult to keep tradition going, it's great that you're trying to keep the culture alive.

  3. That WOULD be interesting! I think it's a great idea. My parents speak Spanish and only spoke to me a little in it. I know enough to have light conversation, but not enough to be called fluent. I want my son to speak Spanish fluently so I'm getting him Spanish lessons, but I also want to learn it more so that he can have someone to speak Spanish with. Make it a family affair and have loads of fun doing it!

  4. Thanks for the encouragement mamas!! This will definitely be an interesting part of our lives and I can't wait to introduce both of Lil J's cultural backgrounds to him as he is growing up :)