An interview with bilingual kids and their parents on what it is, and how it feels to be multilingual …
Interview with Jinyan, Ben and Mary*
Jinyan (mum) and her husband are both from China and came to Australia 7 years ago.
What do you do to keep Mandarin at home?
Jinyan: “I don’t need to do much. It is just really natural. At home we speak Mandarin because my husband is from China too. So we both speak Mandarin with each other and with the kids. When they were really small, we only spoke Mandarin to them and when they grew up we sent them to the Chinese Language School and there they can make a lot of friends, who also speak Mandarin. They are really happy to go there because they have a lot of friends at the school and I think it’s a very good way to keep them speaking Mandarin.”
What is your advice on raising bilingual kids?
Jinyan: “The only way to keep your kids to speak the parent’s first language is that parents need to speak their mother tongue at home. Otherwise, as the kids are growing they are exposed to English more and if parents wouldn’t insist, kids would choose speaking English at home as it is easier for them.”