We have been talking a lot lately about how to learn Chinese. I mean, there are several of us getting a really good education in Chinese, but we want more!
Bella is excelling in school. She just scored a solid 98% on her mid terms. Eric is keeping up with her, but he is having to study a lot harder! (Remember, she had a 6 mo. + advantage!) Chloe is also working hard at her Chinese, studying independently for a couple of hours each day and then spending 4 hours each week with our private tutor. Eleanor is also excelling with her tutor! She listens, pays attention and remembers everything! That means that Eleanor is getting a good 8 hours a week of language under her belt.
Meg on the other hand is bored out of her mind. She wouldn’t care if she never sang another song, read another story book or looked at another flash card in Chinese for her entire life! We have to approach her learning a different way, I know! We have some ideas, and we’ll be working on her lesson plans soon. I am also not finding time to study Chinese. Keeping a house in China is a huge task, keeping food on the table takes hours each day, and in addition to all that, I have the girls schooling to complete every day!
On Friday we had an opportunity to sit down and talk with a self-proclaimed Hyperpolyglot. He talked to us about the importance of immersion and we agreed with nearly everything he said concerning it, except for… “using absolutely no English.” You see, unlike his current situation, we have a family. We are six people living together, working side-by-side and relating to each other on a daily basis. We simply can not stop speaking English because it will damage relationships! We HAVE to find a middle ground and work from there.
After many discussions over the weekend, we came up with the following list of things that we decided we can do with the spirit of immersion:
1. We are going to insist that our Chinese teacher speak ONLY Chinese to the kids. We are also going to continue trading play time with our friend Teresa. She speaks only Chinese to my kids and I speak only English with her daughter.
2. Eric and Bella are going to speak only Chinese to each other and to the girls. I will continue to speak English (when necessary) with the girls so that we can maintain the mother/daughter relationships. Eric will speak English to the girls during his weekly Father’s Interview and at church.
3. We are having our Chinese teacher translate a list of phrases that we use all the time. It will make it easier for us to run a house if we have something familiar to use.
4. No TV programs or movies in English for the foreseeable future.
5. No music with English lyrics.
6. Eric, Bella and Chloe will start using our Chinese Book of Mormon for their daily personal scripture study.
As you can see, the middle ground pretty much means that I will not be learning as much Chinese as everyone else. The realization of this fact came to us slowly over the past few months, but it is necessary at this point in the game. When Eric is finished with school and can spend more time helping around the house, I’ll have time to catch up! No worries!
I am going to start blogging more about our language experiences because I know that many of my friends in the adoption community are interested. If you are interested in learning Chinese or in having your kids learn Chinese, please stay tuned! It is not necessary to live in China to learn Chinese, I promise!