It’s been a month since we are back in California. Wonderful things happened since as far as our journey to learning three languages and cultures. The children started Mandarin school 3 days after we got back despite jet lags and homesickness. Ethan started Little Dysnasty and Kaya Started at Marian Bergeson Mandarin preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The rest of the week they are home with me (unless I work) and we are learning Filipino. The rule for language learning is this : English with Dad, Filipino with mom and Mandarin at school. When we started a month ago, I didn’t realize how it’s going to work out, now we are simply amazed with the progress the kids are having with language learning.
First, I have to mention that one of the most important elements for a successful language immersion is the innate desire or interest to learn. We are lucky that the children are completely enjoying the experience. There were no power struggle — they just love to learn the target language. When my son went home that day from school, he was rapping in Mandarin while my daughter is singing the Mandarin version of “Twinkle Twinkle little star.” They both love their school and their teachers are happy with their progress as well. They feel that the kids are having fun and not realizing that they are in an immersion setting. However, our Filipino language was a different story 😦 Initially, they were resisting to speak at home saying that I can understand English. So i told them that it will make mommy happy if they can speak my language and that if we are outside and they have some things to tell me that they don’t want other people to know, they can tell me as if we have our own “secret language”. Somehow it worked! We have been having conversation in Filipino, watching Filipino children shows together and enforcing reading before bed. Currently, we are reading short stories of “Pabula” or Fables because they love animals. There are also good questions at the end of the story to test their comprehension. We also incorporate read alouds once a day. Last week, Mike commented that he noticed Aya speaking sentences in Filipino now as compared to when they were back in the Philippines. I totally agree! Hearing my children in Filipino nowadays is music to my ears 🙂
Ethan can now read in 3 languages – Mandarin being the last language to learn. After memorizing his zhuyin, he started blending the characters and last week he was excited to tell me that he knows how to read. Aya on the other hand is a strong English reader but she needs more encouragement in Filipino. I’m sure by end of her kindergarten experience, she can also read in 3 languages like her brother 🙂
In 3 weeks, they will start Mandarin summer camp at school then in September, Ethan starts in first while Kaya in Kindergarten. We were so lucky to have been accepted in the ONLY public Mandarin immersion school here. We are very excited for the opportunity and we can’t wait to start. Tomorrow, Ethan will have an assessment with the grade 1 Mandarin teacher and see how he is with his current level. Initially, he was on a waiting list for grade 2 (and is currently full), but after meeting with the principal about a spot that just opened in Grade 1, we have to consider our options. I spoke to my best friend whose son repeated kindergarten and wholly supports the idea of sending Ethan back to first grade. Now, her son is thriving academically and socially and she believes that it would have been a disaster had she sent him early. I know its a case to case basis and its about knowing your own child but in Ethan’s case, I feel that it will be an advantage. We told Ethan about the unique situation and he seems fine with it, as long as he is in the same school with Aya and he can still read his Wimpy kid and Magic tree house 🙂 The principal also mentioned about differentiation inside the classroom which is great! Mandarin is a difficult language to learn so I feel that he will be challenged all year despite being in grade 1. So after considering all the facts, Mike and I decided to have him repeat for 3 valid reasons : 1.) He’s only 6 with a fall birthday 2.) Given his personality, an extra year will bring more socio-emotional maturity 3.) Lack of previous Mandarin classroom immersion experience.
Tonight, we reviewed his Zhuyin and numbers for tomorrow’s assessment while I hear Aya singing the Butterfly song in Mandarin. After 20 minutes, he said, “Mama, alam ko na yan (I know that already) !!! Tulog na tayo! (let’s go to sleep). 🙂