Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Welcome to Hao Mama

My now four-year-old son (“L”) was a late talker, but an early singer. When he was two, he would enthusiastically sing through his repertoire of dozens of Chinese songs, over and over, day after day. It’s how he would get himself to sleep at night and how he would wake up in the morning. My favorite was always, “Wo De Hao Mama 我的好妈妈,” (“My good Mama”) about a child comforting an exhausted mother after a hard day’s work.

At first, it was through singing that our son learned to speak Chinese. Before either of our two children were born, my husband (a native Mandarin speaker) and I (a rusty Mandarin speaker) made a firm commitment to raise our children bilingually. But we didn’t yet realize how much work and effort true bilingualism entails. And we certainly didn’t predict what a key role the CDs of Chinese children singing high-pitched, syrupy songs, sent over by grandparents in China, would play in the process.

From the beginning, my husband has spoken exclusively Chinese to both children and I have spoken English. This method has worked well for us, but, living in an English environment, their Chinese has always needed to be supplemented and reinforced. So I have spent an inordinate amount of time over the past four years searching out the best books, websites, videos, music, and activities to help our son not just learn but enjoy Chinese. At the beginning, we tried to have as much Chinese exposure at home as possible, but before L could talk we never knew what or how much was sinking in. It became clear one day when, after listening repeatedly for weeks to a CD of children reading Tang Dynasty poems, L turned to us one day, out of the blue, and recited a poem about geese from beginning to end. We now watch in wonder as he effortlessly switches back and forth between the two languages without a thought. We struck gold when a wonderful Chinese immersion school opened last September within walking distance from our house, where he is now flourishing.

Now we are starting the process over again with his nine-month-old little sister (“T”), and if it’s like anything else about the process of parenting two children, she is certain to choose her own, unique way to learn the language that is very different from her big brother.

This website is a place for me to compile the information I have gathered, and am gathering, in the process of creating a Chinese environment for my children. I have discovered that there are a lot of valuable resources out there, they are just hard to find. The links I post will not be comprehensive but will connect to information or resources that I have personally found useful. I also hope to learn about new resources or different ways of creating bilingual environments from people who happen upon this site and find it helpful. Ideally, I would love to create a community of parents who are seeking creative ways to teach their children Chinese. So please feel free to send me any anecdotes, links, or recommendations of resources that you value; post comments; or send me suggestions or feedback on the site. You can subscribe to receive email updates through the form on the sidebar.

Thanks for reading.

Sophie