When we first became parents, i knew we were in trouble when it comes to our kids chinese education. My husband does not speak a word of mandarin, he cannot even differentiate 我 and 大! He was not educated locally so had managed to escape chinese classes and continued to shun away from the dreaded subject when he came here on scholarship.
As for me, i cannot speak mandarin to save my life. I was raised in an English speaking environment and can safely say, i was only exposed to Mandarin when i went to school. I never read a single Mandarin book in my life because the words give me a headache. My friends would beg me to switch to English if i attempt to speak in Mandarin- i am that bad.
Oddly enough, on paper, i am better in Mandarin than English- not that my English is awesome (i know i know, my grammar, tenses, spelling are all over the place!). I was a A/B grade student which was extraordinary since i have no mandarin exposure other than in school nor tuition. No, i didn't enjoy a single chinese lesson and hated almost ALL my chinese teachers. Don't ask me how i did it, my husband thinks i am a joke.
I thought i would pretty much be freed from the language until i gave birth to sonny sonshine. On the hindsight, perhaps that is why God especially helped me in my mandarin (because he knew i was going to marry a potato partner) so that at least now i can in turn 'save' my children!
Well, the saving grace is, i know enough words to read Mandarin somewhat comfortably and understand the text 80% of the time. I am also equipped enough to look up the chinese dictionary when a mandarin word looks alien to me.
It is true, my children may have difficulty conversing in Mandarin- just like their parents. But i am doing what i can- for now. I am reading lots and lots and lots of Mandarin books to sonshine. My first & foremost aim is NOT to get him to learn Mandarin but to find enjoyment in reading even Mandarin books. That's why i began with the simplest of books so that i can read and so that he can understand and enjoy. Right now, i am slowly introducing to him more Mandarin story books so that he can learn to appreciate the language. I've to say, we've been quite successful. There was a little resistance but once he found the storyline interesting he was hook.
So, here is one book we enjoy reading this week:
It is a book told by a child about how great his father is. How his father is not afraid of the big bad wolf, how he can so effortlessly leap over the moon, how his father can sing & dance so superbly etc. But most importantly, how his father loves him so.
I think this book originated in English and was translated in Mandarin. I enjoyed it because, erm, just because the words are simple enough for me to read! :P But sonny enjoys it too and that's good enough!